By Ifeanyi Olannye
The Federal Government in partnership with Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI) have begun training of Agricultural Development Project (ADP) staff in the South East and South South zones of the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the four-day training programme, which began on Wednesday in Sapele, aimed to equip farmers with requisite knowledge on how to manage post harvest losses in the region.
In her opening remarks, the Executive Director, NSPRI, Dr Patricia Pessu, said that the training programme was aimed at stepping down knowledge on post harvest management, through the ADP staff, to rural farmers.
Pessu said that post harvest losses had a significant effect on the economy.
“The institute would be taking advantage of the platform to disseminate information and share experiences as well as achievements on post harvest management to reduce post harvest losses,” she said.
She said that about 30 per cent of grains, such as maize, sorghum, millet, cowpea, root and tuber crops such as yam, cassava and potatoes were lost post harvest in the country.
“About 50 of fruits and vegetables produced in Nigeria are also lost post harvest. Unfortunately these losses are in the rural areas, that are in dire need of development.”
She described the ADP officials as partners and stakeholders in the agricultural sector, who had over the years ”helped to improve the livelihoods of the farmers by helping to provide them with inputs such as fertilizers and seedlings.
“As we know, post-harvest has not been at the forefront of their roles and we, having the mandate to conduct research on post-harvest losses, decided as part of our 2021 project to get the ADPs on board, realising their importance at the grassroots”.
“So, we are able to bring them on board to put them through all the available technologies in the industry realising that as they are close to the grassroots, they will be able to impact on the farmers and to eventually improve their livelihoods and then improve the economy,” Pessu said.
The NSPRI boss assured that the partnership would continue even after the training programme.
She said that the institute intended to have some of the technologies in some places that would be identified by the ADPs, where the farmers would access the facilities and use them free of charge.
In his remarks, the Delta State coordinator, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Mr John Onovughe, said that the training would enable ADP staff to orientate farmers on how to preserve their produce.
“The training is commendable, as it will be nice if we can get it right this time around; post harvest storage will boost the Nigerian economy.
”Technology innovation of the post harvest training will enhance the living conditions of the farmers”, he said.
Earlier, the state Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Chief Julius Egbedi, represented by Mr Edwin Odiete, Programme Manager in the ministry, said farmers who were responsible for feeding the nation lacked the facilities to store their produce after harvest.
He added that the training would equip farmers with requisite knowledge and new methods of preserving their crops.
Egbedi also said that the knowledge imparted in the course of the training would be extended to farmers on how best to preserve their produce, especially those in the rural areas.
One of the trainees, Mr Godwin Eze thanked the Ministry and NSPRI for the workshop, assuring that that whatever they were taught would be extended to the farmers, to help reduce post harvest losses in the country. (NAN)