By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Nigeria Stored Products Research Institute, NSPRI, Thursday, gave hope to farmers and investors across various value chains in the agricultural sector by unveiling hermetic steel drums to drastically reduce post-harvest losses.
This was made known by the Executive Director, NSPRI, Dr Patricia Pessu, at the Pacegate Limited and NSPRI Media Parley held via zoom.
According to Pessu, the essence of the collaboration with Pacegate Limited is to enable farmers to reduce post-harvest losses and improve the quality of food Nigerians consume and also for export as far as appropriate and standard food preservation is concerned.
She also expressed optimism that with the effort of the agency in collaboration with Pacegate Limited, farmers using the hermetic steel drums will improve in food safety as well as quality for high profitability.
According to her, the first batch of the product has been rolled out to farmers across the country for usage, which she made it known that NSPRI has commenced the use of hermetic steel drums for storage of dried durable products.
Hermetic storage is a method of using sealed, airtight units to control moisture and insects in the storage of dried agricultural commodities. The hermetic storage restricts gas exchanges between the internal and external environments and the stored commodity, maintaining the initial levels of moisture and controlling pests by the lack of oxygen.
The available oxygen in the internal ecosystem is reduced to lethal or limiting the respiration of any living organism within the system.
Meanwhile, the hermetic steel drums are sourced from the first and only UN certified steel drum factory in Nigeria, Pacegate Limited, which is a subsidiary of Hana Group and manufacturer of steel drums.
The company was certified and approved after the product was built, tested, and certified to carry agricultural produce with no leakages, and also the drums are environmentally friendly and have been incorporated with anti-rust and coated with food-grade lacquer which protects it from rust and enhances food safety.
She said: “Post-harvest value chain is important in ensuring food safety and security in Nigeria, especially with respect to properly dried staple agricultural commodities.
“Preservation of these commodities (grains, dried products from yam, cassava, potatoes, fruits, vegetables, fishery, meat, etc) from season of surplus using appropriate and safe storage practice will benefit all actors along the value chain (farmers, processors, marketers, traders, transporters, consumers) in terms of monetary, health and protect agricultural economic values of the country.
“One of the technologies developed and popularized by NSPRI for non-chemical preservation and safe handling of these durable products is the NSPRI Hermetic Steel Drum produced by Pacegate Limited.”
Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute is one of the Research Institutes under the supervision of the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN) in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Reducing post-harvest losses by ensuring the quality, safety, and availability of Agricultural Produce has been the mission of the Institute.
The mandate of the Institute stipulates that it shall carry out research into the bulk storage problem of export commodities and local food crop and in particular, it shall conduct research into improvement and maintenance of the quality of bulk commodity crops including cocoa, groundnuts, palm produce; improvement and maintenance of the quality of local food crops including cereals, grains, pulses, tubers and any other local commodity under bulk storage; special studies such as stored products pests, pesticide formulations, and residue, and mycotoxin surveys; provision of advice and training of extension workers in problems associated with stored products and materials in storage structures, new insecticides, new items of equipment and techniques; and any other related matters as may be determined from time to time by the Institute.
Meanwhile, the Managing Director, Pacegate Limited, Umesh Amarnani, urged stakeholders in the agricultural sector to adopt modern technology that is environmentally friendly to increase yield, preserve, and safeguard farm produce.
According to Amarnani while explaining about the hermetic steel drums his company has manufactured said with the use of hermetic steel drums, dried agricultural commodities such as grains, pulses, fruits, vegetables, fisheries, and livestock can be effectively stored while reducing the impact of pesticides and aflatoxin contamination, which other storage benefits include the elimination of fear of damage caused by stored product pests (insects and rodents) thereby assuring food safety and protecting economic value of the products.
No requirement of the use of chemicals, thereby eliminating the possibility of food poisoning and additional costs that may have been incurred as a result of use chemicals; The drum can be used to store multiple crops at the same time and stored products can be consumed whenever the need arises.
He said:“Players in the agricultural industry should adopt modern techniques and take advantage of local technology in line with global standards that will not only increase yield but also protect our health and environment.
“Our steel drums are safe, reliable, cost-effective, and sustainable and designed to provide efficient storage of dried agricultural produce. I commend the NSPRI for taking the initiative to sensitize stakeholders in the agricultural value chain on the immense benefits of steel drums.”
He further explained that the hermetic drum has a lifespan of over 30 years with a payback period of less than three years. The technology is fire and waterproof, gender-friendly, and easy to use with relatively low maintenance, and the drum is robust and can be transported with no damage, retaining their air-tightness.