By Itohan Abara-Laserian
The Farm Awareness for Food Preservation Initiative (FAFPI) has urged the Federal Government and farmers to adopt traditional storage techniques to lessen the effects of post-harvest losses.
Mr Edu Ogbonnaya, the National Coordinator of the initiative, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on telephone that over one-third of the country’s produced foods were lost due to lack of storage facilities.
Ogbonnaya said that currently, Nigeria losses over two billion dollars (about N714 billion) annually to post-harvest losses, adding that there was need to urgently address the issue if food sufficiency was to be achieved.
“Nigeria is still very low when we talk about tackling post-harvest losses and we are currently not doing much to mitigate the problem. We have yet to know the importance of preservation and how it can help to sustain the economy.
“We have identified a problem in the sector; we need to find solutions that will help to lessen its effects on the food reserves of the nation.
“That is why we need to engage local storage techniques and also invest in preservation cooling systems for farmers across the country,” Ogbonnaya told NAN.
He said that traditional storage could be built with raffia, straws and jute sacks, while vegetables and fruits could be stored in perforated plastic containers that could preserve the veggies for over four days.
He said: “Yams can also be stored in such facilities. Farmers should also know how to pile their produce.
“The bigger ones should go under the container while the smaller ones should be placed on top to avoid spoilage.‘’
NAN reports that FAFPI is a Non-Governmental Organisation affiliated with the International Forum of Organic Agricultural Movement; set up to train farmers on preservation techniques and post-harvest handling.
The initiative had trained over 22,000 farmers across the country and hope to train more. Also, the NGO is currently pitching to establish storage facilities in major farming communities that will help to reduce movement of farm produce from state to state which affects the quality of the produce.