By Demola Akinyemi ,IIorin
The federal government has begun the distribution of improved food storage facilities to farmers in the 19 states of the federation in order to ensure food security for teeming Nigerians.
The distribution of facilities to farmers was occasioned by available data of lack of preservatives system and storage facilities by many farmers which had led to abundant foods wastage and economic hardship by the concerned farmers in the recent time.
The facilities distributed in the first phase include 1,000 iced-fish boxes, 600 NSPRI hermetic steel drums, 120 NSPRI smoking kiln and 18 parabolic solar dryers among others.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Ernest Umakhihe flagged off the distribution for farmers, vulnerable women and youths at the Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI), Ilorin, Kwara state capital, on Tuesday.
Dr Ernest Umakhihe exuded confidence that the gesture would go a long way towards improving food production and productivity that would boost the socio-economic growth of the populace.
He said that the government has identified a poor post-harvest management system among farmers as the major factor that impeded the growth of agricultural development in the country.
According to him, “Post-harvest losses is one of the major problems of the Nigerian agricultural sector as food loses due to the poor-harvest technologies have potential effects on food security and nutrition and these causes shortage of food supply, availability, access and utilisation”.
He said that ‘Access to improved storage systems and technology is a perfect strategy in reducing food losses both at the harvest, home and market”.
Represented at the event by the Director, External Services of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Frank Kuala, the permanent secretary added that, “the quest for enhanced food security in Nigeria is the major target of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and it is continually making efforts in the areas of skills development and empowerment of Nigerian farmers to improve production and productivity”.
He also said that “it is due to this stand that the ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development directed the board and management of NSPRI to key into the vision of the Federal Government driven by the ministry so as to make food production abundant for all and sundry in the country”.
Umakhihe added that “the ministry is very impressed with the array of Innovations which NSPRI continues to introduce to the agricultural sector on a regular basis.
“These Innovations not only contribute to enhancing food security but also generate an economic multiplier effect that translates to economic growth and development of the country.
“The efforts of NSPRI towards alleviating the pains and conditions of vulnerable women and young people in our society is a testimony of your commitments to the pursuits of President Muhammadu Buhari’s agenda for economic diversification through the agricultural sector.
“The distribution of these facilities to vulnerable women and youths as an incentive to improve their productivity and livelihood is worthy of emulation by other institutions”.
The Executive Director of the NSPRI, Dr Patricia Pessu, also speaking during the event said that the institute is committed to improving food storage for a happier nation.
She said, “We recognize that women in rural areas across Nigeria play an increasingly pivotal role in agricultural production as well as post-harvest activities. Estimates of involvement of women across the agricultural value chain range between 20 per cent to 70 per cent.
“So, with more support and encouragement, these hardworking women can deliver more economic value to our country, while helping to drive the government’s food security agenda”.
Pessu added, “We also recognize that there are several vulnerable women and young people whose lives would be positively impacted if they had access to some of our innovation.
“We are confident that these facilities will boost the productivity of hordes of women involved in agricultural activities in rural areas. Also, by providing vulnerable women and young people with a decent livelihood, we trust that these facilities will not only help to ease their burdens but set them on the path of enhanced economic productivity”