The Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRl), located in Ilorin, has organized a capacity-building program for 40 members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) covering the post-harvest management of agricultural produce to prevent losses associated with harvested products.
Present at the program in Ilorin, the institute’s executive director, Patricia Pessu, said that the training on post-harvest management would help to reduce food wastage, create employment opportunities and empower youths to be self-reliant.
The impact of post-harvest loss is enormously destabilizing in terms of food and meat production, with the majority of produce decaying in transit before it arrives at market. Such loss has negative implications for food security in Nigeria.
About 30 to 40 percent of the food produced in the country is estimated to be wasted due to a lack of storage facilities, poor handling and a low level of value addition.
According to Pessu, youths could play an active role in preventing wastage by using technologies and scientific tools that older generations of farmers find difficult to apply. She added that Nigeria has lost a lot of money to post-harvest waste, which in turn has affected food availability, prices and nutrition as well as the nation’s economy.
Pessu emphasized that the institute normally gives take-off grants to some of the trained corps members so they can engage in the prevention of post-harvest loss and other agricultural programs.
While declaring the training program open, Muritala Olanrewaju, the state commissioner for agriculture and natural resources, called on stakeholders to always support government initiatives on food production and storage.
Fransisca Olaleye, state coordinator for the NYSC, expressed gratitude to the management of the NSPRI for organizing the training, which involved 40 corps members selected from each of the 16 local government areas of Kwara State.