By Sunday Oguntuyi Osogbo
The Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI), Ilorin has reiterated the importance of post harvest management of agricultural products as an impetus to food security in Nigeria in a recent training workshop for some selected practising small holders farmers and extension service officers in six states of the South South Geo-Political Zone of Nigeria.
The Executive Director of the renowned Agriculture training institute, Dr Femi Oladunni, who was speaking through Mr Franklin Ene, the institute’s South South Geo Political Zone liaison officer said cassava, plantain, banana and palm products are grown by smallholders and covers over a third of cultivated land in the zone, as well as the zone supply other parts of Nigeria with these products. Despite its immense contributions, the income of smallholders’ remains generally low and their exposure to food and nutrition insecurity high.
According to the Executive Director, “One reason is that food and nutrition insecurity has a seasonal dimension among rural households. The lean season that lasts from October to February is when the foodstocks of the poorest households are depleted and food prices soar. Traditional silos do not offer adequate protection against pests and the elements, causing significant post-harvest losses.”
The Management Consultant to the programme, Pastor Olusegun Ogunleye, who was represented by the organisation’s Training Manager, Mr Dare Adeoye emphasized the importance of farmers making use of more affordable and locally developed technology made from local materials as quite helpful for farmers. He explained that post harvest management makes farmers’ losses minimal.
From the different seasons facilitated at the workshop, various methods of preserving Agriculture Products that will retain the quality of harvested crops for a long time – up to ten months, which also reduces the need for chemical treatments were learnt. Significantly, the longer the preservation time for the crops, the more flexibility farmers have when choosing the best time to sell their product. This ensures the farmers can get a good price for their produce.
One of the participants, Michael Nwuche is a 39-year old farmer in the locality of Rivers State was of the opinion that “These new skills acquired on post harvest handling techniques have made a real difference in our lives. I am now able to sell what I produce to different markets and wait until the price is right.”
The training workshop, which drew 30 participants from Niger Delta states, which was held in Ahoada, Rivers State was a residential training and it lasted for 5 days.