From Layi Olanrewaju, Ilorin
No fewer than 1,738 farmers in 19 states of the federation have been empowered by the Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI), Ilorin, Kwara State with improved food storage facilities.
The scheme, which WA’s flagged off at the NSPRI Headquarters in Ilorin, Kwara State, saw the distribution of 1,000 iced-Fish Boxes, 600 NSPRI Hermetic Steel Drums, 120 NSPRI Smoking Kilns, and 18 Parabolic Solar Dryers to farmers and various farmers’ cooperative societies across the federation.
In a welcome address at the occasion, the Executive Director, NSPRI, Dr. (Mrs.) Patricia Pessu, while crediting the Federal Government for the gesture, expressed NSPRI’s determination to avail Nigerians of sustainable solutions to the problem of agricultural post-harvest losses, noting that the Institute’s innovations are predicated on the fundamental principles of effectiveness, cost-efficiency and availability.
“So far, under the guidance of our Board and the support of our management and staff, our scientists have come up with several innovations to support post-harvest storage of agricultural commodities.
In the area of fisheries and livestock, for instance, we have the NSPRI Iced-Fish Box with which fish farmers and entrepreneurs can preserve freshly harvested fish for up to 48 hours. We have also developed the NSPRI Fish-Smoking Kilns, with which fish can be smoked in a convenient and healthy fashion. This way, fish farmers are spared the unnecessary labour associated with the traditional fish-smoking methods as fish smoked using this method is not only uniformly dried but also visually appealing and largely devoid of unhealthy smoke and soot residues.” She stated.
“For grains and legumes, we have the NSPRI Hermetic Steel Drums as well as the NSPRI Inert Atmosphere Silos for storage. We also have stackable fruit and vegetable baskets whose design is such that fruits and vegetables can be transferred from farm to market with minimal or no damage to the contents, as opposed to the traditional baskets of old.
“Another of our innovations is the parabolic-shaped solar dryer. This dryer utilizes the abundant sunshine across our country to speedily and hygienically dry different products including vegetables, grains, yam and cassava chips among many others. In addition, the dryer hinders the penetration of harmful Ultraviolet radiation, helping to ensure that the products are not only safer but indeed more visually and commercially appealing,” she added while explaining the functions of the various NSPRI technological innovations.
Speaking further, Mrs Pessu noted that a key element of NSPRI’s mandate is to ensure that prospective users of its technologies understand them, appreciate the value which the technologies translate to and consequently, readily adopt them.
“This is what underscores our ongoing effort to significantly increase the promotion and popularization of these technologies to our different stakeholders. Indeed, one major objective of today’s Special Event is to flag-off our reinforcement of our promotional activities.”
In his address, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture (FMARD), Mr Ernest Umakhihe, buttressed the importance of the management of agricultural harvests to national food security and commended NSPRI for complementing the efforts of the FMARD at empowering farmers with the skill and wherewithal to enhance production.
“At the Ministry of Agriculture, we recognize that poor post-harvest management has been a critical issue for many years in the agriculture sector and that it severely hampers the productivity of farmers.
He commended the board and management of NSPRI for keying into the vision of the Federal Government driven by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, noting that the ministry is very impressed with the array of innovations that NSPRI continues to introduce to the agricultural sector regularly.”
According to him, the innovations not only contribute to enhancing food security but also generate an economic multiplier effect that translates to enhanced economic growth and development.
Represented by Frank Satumari Kudla, director of extension services, FMARD, the permanent secretary, who expressed his delight at the synergy between the NSPRI and the other sister agencies in the ministry, encouraged the Institute “to continue with more innovations that will quicken the pace of s and their commercialization of these technologies.”
He pledged the continued support of the ministry to enable NSPRI to continue to deliver on its mandate.
There were goodwill messages from representatives of various sister agricultural agencies, agricultural institutions, agricultural cooperatives, trade associations, non-governmental organisations and agricultural professional groups, who lauded the Executive Director of NSPRI for the remarkable research and technological innovations and reforms made by the Institute. The groups include the National Centre for Agricultural Mechanization (NCAM), the Agricultural and Rural Management Technology Institute (AMTI), The National Fresh Water Research Institute (NFWRI), Catfish Farmers Association of Nigeria (CATFAN), former NSPRI Executive Directors and the Justice Development and Peace Commission of the Catholic Church.
The highpoint of the occasion was the guided tour of the NSPRI technologies and the ceremonial presentation of the Iced Fish Boxes, Fish Smoking Kilns and Hermetic Steel Drums to the respective farmers and trade associations. NISPRI has the sole mandate to mitigate post-harvest losses in Nigeria. It is a mandate that has a direct bearing on Nigeria’s food security.