Naija Foodie Update

Foodie Naija Update (Tackling Post-Harvest Losses Towards Food Security)

Food remains a basic need of man. Interestingly Nigeria is blessed with all it takes to get good
harvests – human resources, arable land
and massive water source; but
unfortunately much of it is lost to
pre and post-harvest challenges, Ruth Tene Natsa writes on the
need to tackle post-harvest losses
towards ensuring food security.

Food is one of the basic needs of all living things and while man can
survive without clothing and shelter which are other basic
needs, man cannot survive without food. The need to ensure food security is one Nigeria must look into towards preserving the lives of citizens.

Post-harvest losses as the term implies are losses which occur to
a farmer’s produce after harvest.
They are losses which occur between the time of harvest and the time of human consumption and can
be divided into quantitative and
qualitative losses.
Whichever way
the losses occur, it is usually a loss to the farmer in particular and the nation at large as the value of
that produce depreciates.

Saddening also is the fact that while Nigeria records very high imports of produces, which
though it can conveniently
produce locally,
local produces, exported are often rejected internationally as
they fail to meet international
standards required for export.

While the nation pays heavily to import, it
gains very little from the export of its produce, as such they all become losses after harvest.
These rejections are often caused by a number of factors
including poor storage facilities, lack of processing facilities, poor or
non-existing markets,
transportation challenges and
even lack of
knowledge or capacity in food
preservation, poor and inadequate power supply.

Nigeria is one country where
fruits and vegetables grow in and out of
season, but the problem of
processing and preservation
leads to post-harvest losses. Post-harvest losses are caused by
various factors including fruit pest
diseases, poor preservation of
harvested produces, poor transportation
of harvested produces due to
bad roads, lack of storage facilities such
as cold rooms, silos and properly ventilated warehouses.

Records by the National Bureau
of Statistics (NBS), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural
Development (FMARD) have
shown that as a result of poor or
absence of good agricultural practices (GAP), and poor post-harvest handling,
the acceptance of local products from Africa and other developing countries is very difficult.

This is a big challenge to market development for local farmers. According to the permanent
secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and
Rural Development, Mr. Sonny Echono, post harvest losses have been estimated to range between five percent and 20 per cent for grains,
20 percent for fish and as high as 50-60 percent for tubers,
fruits and vegetable.

He said: “Horticultural crops because of their delicate nature
face tremendous post-harvest
challenges. In Nigeria specifically, tomatoes
has the highest priorities with
domestic demand of 2.3 million tonnes
of fresh product annually, national production of 1.8 million tonnes,
wastage of over 750.300 tonnes
and import bill of N16 billion to make
up for the short fall in local production.”

He said citrus (oranges) has
national production of 3.48 million
tonnes, contributing about 29.71
percent of the world’s production
and 81.98 per cent of Africa’s total output, however, 1.53
million tonnes of citrus product is lost
annually as waste while an annual
import of 7.851 tonnes (concentrates and related products ) valued at over (717 million ) has been
recorded.

The horticultural sub-
sector is undoubtedly faced with problems of processing and
post-harvest
handling.
Echono meanwhile assured that the Nigerian government in partnership with the private sector is
working to tackle issues of post-harvest
losses through the establishment of Staple Crops Processing Zones
(SCPZ), and a number of export crops handling, preservation and
conditioning centres.

It is to be recalled that the immediate past government
through the former minister of Agriculture and Rural
Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina announced various
policies to tackle post harvest losses, chief among which was the introduction of the Staple Crop
Processing Zones(SCPZs).According to Akinwumi “agriculture had the
greatest power
to create jobs, because whether
planting, weeding, harvesting,
threshing, processing, or adding value you employ people.

So the power to create jobs is there but first you must add value to every
single thing.”
He said, “If you take the case of fruits, for instance, Nigeria is the largest producer of pineapples in
Africa, producing 903,000 metric
tonnes, South Africa produces about 100,000, but we import pineapple
juice from South Africa

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