Business

Harvest losses: Institute set to boost food storage

In a bid to reduce post-harvest losses and improve the quality of food across the country, the Nigeria Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI) has commenced the use of hermetic steel drums for the storage of dried durable products for households by Nigerian farmers.

This, the agency said, is aim to reduce post-harvest losses by ensuring quality, safety and availability of agricultural produce. The NSPRI rolled out the first batch of 600 steel drums to farmers across Nigeria to assist them in storage of agric produce.

Speaking at an event to launch the hermetic steel drums for the storage of dried durable products in Abuja, recently, the Executive Director (NSPRI), Dr. Patricia Pessu, described hermetic storage as a method of using sealed, airtight units to control moisture and insects in the storage of dried agricultural commodities. According to her, 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.

She said that the available oxygen in the internal ecosystem is reduced to lethal or limiting the respiration of any living organism within the system. Pessu noted that the hermetic steel drums were sourced from the first and only UN Certified steel drum factory in Nigeria, Pacegate Limited – a subsidiary of Hana Group and Manufacturer of steel drums and have been built tested and certified to carry agricultural produce with no leakages.

In addition, the NSPRI executive director added that the drums were environmentally friendly and have been incorporated with anti-rust and coated with food grade lacquer which protects it from rust and enhances food safety. Pessu 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.” Also commenting, Managing Director, Pacegate Limited, Mr. Umesh Amarnani 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.” 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 contaminations.

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