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Experts, farmers identify ways of stemming food scarcity in Nigeria 

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 Some farmers and experts in agriculture in the South West zone have identified post harvest losses as a major factor militating against food security in Nigeria The farmers and agricultural experts who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria in Oyo Ondo Ogun Osun Ekiti and Kwara states called for urgent actions to address the food scarcity currently ravaging the country Mr Segun Dasaolu Deputy National President of All Farmers Association of Nigeria AFAN told NAN in Abeokuta that the National Food Reserve Agency NFRA needed to be resuscitated This he said would further re invigorate the food system and speed up the attainment of food security in the country Dasaolu also called on the Federal Government to restore grain reserves and set up additional silos particularly in the food producing local government areas across the six geo political zones According to him this will check post harvest losses and wastages and thus help to salvage the current food crisis before it got out of hands Dasaolu who noted that losses could occur at various stages of agricultural chain including harvest drying transportation storage and market stages urged government to address the various stages in order to reduce post harvest losses According to him government should also recover all the leased silos mop up available crops add value and store adequately to arrest future food shortages Prof Kolawole Adebayo of Department of Agricultural Extension and Rural Development of Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta FUNNAB decried what he called abandonment of food reserves in the country He said that it was imperative for the country to revive food reserves in form of silos and other storage facilities Only when this is put in place can the country enjoy adequate food security he said The professor of agricultural extension also advised government to put in place a mechanism where buyers could get commodities directly from farmers during harvest and store the remaining to prevent post harvest losses Every commodity has a harvesting period during which the products are always available in excess One of the best strategies we can adopt as a nation is to have an arrangement where we can buy up all the excesses during the harvest and process them for storage After the period of harvest we can then begin to release them gradually from the reserves and this is where the concept of food reserves comes from Over the years we as a nation have abandoned our food reserves and I think this is the time to revive those reserves for every commodity that is produced in this country he said Corroborating Adebauoyo s views Secretary of AFAN Ogun chapter Mr Abiodun Ogunjimi stressed the need for food reserves in the agricultural sector adding that the few available reserves had been taken over by the private sector and therefore not beneficial to farmers He noted that most farmers did not have access to the few available storage facilities constructed by the federal government as they had been concession to private operators The private investors are only out to maximise profit and as such farmers cannot gain much from partnering with them he said Ogunjimi urged government to provide silos at designated areas close to farmers and revive the few ones that had become moribund The Vice Chairman Rice Farmers Association RIFAN Ogun chapter Alhaji Monsuru Adebayo also opined that food reserves needed to be revitalised in the country According to him farmers need silos close to them to store excess produce so as to prevent post harvest wastages Farmers don t need too big silos but the available ones should be located near them Unfortunately most of the existing ones are very far from the farmers and the roads are bad thereby making transportation difficult To minimise post harvest losses governm should revive all the strategic food reserves across the country because most of them are presently not functional he added An Economic Analyst Mr Bright Oleka blamed Nigeria s current food crisis on the security challenge currently facing the country He warned that if the security challenge was not addressed it would be difficult to attain food security and improve the economy Oleka noted that most of the grains were produced from the northern part of the country where the insecurity was most pronounced Before food can be stored in strategic silos they have to be harvested from the farms and evacuated to the sites where they are to be stored A situation where the farms and the roads have been taken over by hoodlums will make effective harvest and proper storage difficult to achieve the economic analyst said The AFAN Chairman in Oyo State Mr John Olateru urged the government to strategically beef up food reserves by getting back all the silos that had been sub leased to private investors stressing this is one of the reasons for food scarcity in the country He noted that some of the silos leased to some private firm were not being used for the desired purpose All those companies do is to mop up all they want to buy They don t care about the prices or other things they only use their activities to disrupt the market Government must of necessity get all its silos back so as to use them to ensure food reserves he said Olateru who lauded the government for inaugurating a committee saddled with the responsibilities of purchasing food produce from farmers towards ensuring food reserves urged the committee to involve farmers associations in order to be effective This is a welcome idea because it is during the harvesting period that prices crash due to low demands If the committee can do the mop up then that will help farmers a lot It will also help in stabilising the prices and encourage farmers to continue their business he said An Ilorin based commercial farmer Mr Tope Abolade said that crops storage and preservation as a precaution against food scarcity and post harvest wastages was a good method to sustain food security He advised Nigerians to willingly get involved in farming with the mindset that the consuming population was high Abolade decried situations where farming was still perceived as an occupation for people of low class or the unemployed History has shown that in a typical traditional society food security used to be at the family level although it was also seen as a collective responsibility by the community It is believed that the colonial administration introduced the idea of state food security to replace the traditional food security system At independence government took over the responsibility of feeding the nation to ensure that there was enough food in state granaries to avert hunger he said Abolade listed other factors undermining the agricultural sector to include political instability unfavorable policies challenges of land tenure system poor credit facilities bad roads as well as absence of technical know how farming equipment and storage facilities Government must make up for the past and deal with the present without forgetting the future We must however appreciate the federal government for improving the face of agriculture in Nigeria and its efforts at sustaining agricultural processes especially for commercial farmers We particularly appreciate the loans the subsidies the improved farming methods and produces as well as the off takers scheme but we still do not have enough storage facilities and enough industries that process farm produces into preserved state It will interest you to know that as much as we have hunger in the country today there are still lots of wastages in the agricultural chain So there is the need for government to push out funds for farmers to make storage facilities shelters as well as pesticides and preservatives available at subsidised rate Abolade said According to Prof Olubunmi Omotesho of Department of Agricultural Economics and Farm Management University of Ilorin Nigeria loses between 30 per cent and 70 per cent of cowpea agricultural yield to post harvest due to absence of efficient storage system Research he said had shown that Nigerian farmers were faced with the challenges of production management techniques as well as the extension needs He further noted that the adoption of improved technology was a key factor in raising crop productivity According to him research on cowpea production by farmers in Kwara showed that majority of farmers still use the traditional storage techniques with only a few of them using the improved modern practices such as cribs and silos Omotesho also identified inadequate credit facilities high cost of and poor access to improved storage facilities as constraints to efficient storage practices in the country He emphasised the importance of small scale farming in the country describing it as a system of farming characterised by low asset base low fixed capital investment labour intensive practices and small family sizes The agricultural expert identified small scale farming as driver of the rural economy and enhancer of local development while asserting the multi dimensional roles of the farmers He called for favourable agricultural policy intervention for small scale farmers in order to produce stable quantity of food for the nation The don also advised governments at all levels to help small scale farmers in providing adequate capital access to markets information and avoiding spoilage resulting from poor storage system and high cost of transportation for agricultural produce Dr Patricia Pessu the Executive Director of Nigeria Stored Products Research Institute NSPRI Ilorin said that the institute had developed several technologies that fits into the scheme adding that the technology needed to be deployed with a national strategy Storage technologies for crops can be provided in strategic locations where the communities have comparative advantage These appropriate technologies if deployed with a national strategy will go a long way in mitigating post harvest food losses in various communities across the country and providing a reliable buffer for the national food reserve Consequently this will ensure regular availability of food year round and eliminate incessant price hikes which is a common experience in Nigeria the executive director said According to her the experience with the government s response to the impact of COVID 19 pandemic in providing food as palliatives has shown clearly that the national strategic food reserve is grossly inadequate She said that recent reports by National Bureau of Statistics showed that the country had experienced a very serious hike in food prices in the last six months thus significantly affecting the livelihoods of many families The situation is likely going to be exacerbated by the war in Ukraine due to the dependence of many African countries on grains from that part of the world This calls for urgent steps to mitigate fool losses at every point of the food value chain Pessu said Dr Ola Ajila of Faculty of Agriculture Obafemi Awolowo University OAU Ile Ife called for collaboration between government and agricultural engineering sector to curb post harvest losses across in the country Ajila said that agricultural engineering sector must be strengthened to develop intermediate storage and processing technology that would be affordable to individual farmers and groups To prevent food wastages she said that there must be an effective storage especially food bank for preservation of farm produce The don recommended establishment of a farm produce marketing centre in each of geo political zone where government could purchase farm produce from farmers for storage during surplus Government can process or preserve the farm produce for the off season when they will be selling to the public from the food bank Aside storage farm produce can be processed so as to add value while government can also strengthen the agricultural extension advisory agency for effective dissemination of technologies to farmers This is the major organisation that works directly with farmers at the grassroots The research institute should also be motivated for effective performance Most importantly the linkage between extension and research need to be strengthened monitored and well coordinated she said Ajila also said that courses in agriculture must be strengthened at all levels of education and made compulsory Students must also be taught more attractive ways of making agriculture course technology driven instead of manually driven as we have in the schools today If agriculture is practised with the appropriate technology and marketing system the youth will be further encouraged she said Ajila advised Nigerians to change what he called their negative attitude toward agriculture Mrs Jumoke Bakare a Deputy Director in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Ondo State said it was important for the federal government to beef up strategic food reserves for food to be available and affordable all year round As the country is fighting insecurity all over food security is also important for the nation to survive and for economy to grow she said The director said provision of efficient and affordable food reserves would help in reducing post harvest loses in the food storage process She also said hand held machines and simple farm equipment such as dehydrators could be made available to farmers to preserve some perishable foods such as vegetables and would still retain its nutritional value Bakare urged the government to provide enabling environment for private investors to invest in food reserves She also called on the federal government to make policies that would favour the private sector as it cannot do it alone Chairman of AFAN in Ekiti Mr Adebola Adeniran blamed incessant increase in prices of food on lack of preservation of farm produce and grains after harvest Other stakeholders in the agricultural sector in the state also pointed out that proper handling and secure post harvest system were crucial to achieving food security in the country According to them lots of human and material resources are being wasted annually due to non secure post harvest system Mr Oluwashina Damilare a cash crop farmer said that failure to safeguard crops after harvest could lead to major losses and wasted efforts during the growing and harvest seasons He said that in severe cases of post harvest food losses it could cause business failures and loss of income especially for small scale business holders Damilare noted that one third of the produced foods for human consumption were lost during post harvest adding that this required urgent government attention According to him lack of secure storage facilities remained one of the contributory factors to post harvest losses even as he decries dependence of many small holder farmers on traditional storage practices which damaged their harvests He urged the country s agricultural research institutes to find lasting solutions to post harvest induced losses Messrs Benjamin Adeoye Oluropo Dada and Olatunji Ayegbusi both AFAN chiefs in Ekiti called for collaboration among the three tiers of government in expanding the nation s food reserve mechanism for future benefits With such collaboration relevant government agencies can work together to ensure that we have enough food reserve for any emergency he said An Agricultural expert Mr Babajide Oso appealed to the federal government to intensify efforts at subsidising more food preservatives and processing equipment for farmers Oso who commended government for subsidising farm inputs called for more efforts to curb wastage of farm produce especially during the harvest season He was of the opinion that many farmers especially those in rural areas lacked enough education and awareness on preservation methods Oso called for siting of food processing firms in rural areas which should be accompanied with provision of good roads for easy access to raw materials com NewsSourceCredit NAN
Experts, farmers identify ways of stemming food scarcity in Nigeria 

Some farmers and experts in agriculture in the South-West zone have identified post-harvest losses as a major factor militating against food security in Nigeria.
 

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News Agency of Nigeria

The farmers and agricultural experts, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria in Oyo, Ondo, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti and Kwara states, called for urgent actions to address the food scarcity currently ravaging the country.
 

nigerian tribune newspaper

Segun Dasaolu

Mr Segun Dasaolu, Deputy National President of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), told NAN in Abeokuta that the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) needed to be resuscitated.
 

nigerian tribune newspaper

This, he said, would further re-invigorate the food system and speed up the attainment of food security in the country.
 

Federal Government

Dasaolu also called on the Federal Government to restore grain reserves and set up additional silos, particularly in the food producing local government areas across the six geo-political zones.
 

According to him, this will check post-harvest losses and wastages and thus help to salvage the current food crisis before it got out of hands.
 

Dasaolu who noted that losses could occur at various stages of agricultural chain, including harvest, drying, transportation, storage and market stages, urged government to address the various stages in order to reduce post-harvest losses.
 

According to him, government should also recover all the leased silos, mop up available crops, add value and store adequately to arrest future food shortages.
 

Kolawole Adebayo

Prof. Kolawole Adebayo of Department of Agricultural Extension and Rural Development of Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNNAB), decried what he called abandonment of food reserves in the country.
 

He said that it was imperative for the country to revive food reserves in form of silos and other storage facilities.
 

“Only when this is put in place can the country enjoy adequate food security,” he said.
 

The professor of agricultural extension also advised government to put in place a mechanism where buyers could get commodities directly from farmers during harvest and store the remaining to prevent post-harvest losses.
 

“Every commodity has a harvesting period during which the products are always available in excess.
 

“One of the best strategies we can adopt as a nation is to have an arrangement where we can buy up all the excesses during the harvest and process them for storage.
 

“After the period of harvest, we can then begin to release them gradually from the reserves and this is where the concept of food reserves comes from.
 

“Over the years, we, as a nation, have abandoned our food reserves and I think this is the time to revive those reserves for every commodity that is produced in this country,” he said.
 

Corroborating Adebauoyo

Corroborating Adebauoyo’s views, Secretary of AFAN, Ogun chapter, Mr Abiodun Ogunjimi, stressed the need for food reserves in the agricultural sector, adding that the few available reserves had been taken over by the private sector and therefore, not beneficial to farmers.
 

He noted that most farmers did not have access to the few available storage facilities constructed by the federal government, as they had been concession to private operators.
 

“The private investors are only out to maximise profit and as such, farmers cannot gain much from partnering with them,” he said.
 

Ogunjimi urged government to provide silos at designated areas close to farmers and revive the few ones that had become moribund.
 

Vice Chairman

The Vice Chairman, Rice Farmers’ Association (RIFAN), Ogun chapter, Alhaji Monsuru Adebayo, also opined that food reserves needed to be revitalised in the country.
 

According to him, farmers need silos close to them to store excess produce so as to prevent post-harvest wastages.
 

“Farmers don’t need too big silos, but the available ones should be located near them.

Unfortunately, most of the existing ones are very far from the farmers and the roads are bad, thereby making transportation difficult.
 

“To minimise post-harvest losses, governm should revive all the strategic food reserves across the country because most of them are presently not functional,” he added.

Economic Analyst

An Economic Analyst, Mr Bright Oleka, blamed Nigeria’s current food crisis on the security challenge currently facing the country.
 

He warned that if the security challenge was not addressed, it would be difficult to attain food security and improve the economy.
 

Oleka noted that most of the grains were produced from the northern part of the country where the insecurity was most pronounced.
 

“Before food can be stored in strategic silos, they have to be harvested from the farms and evacuated to the sites where they are to be stored.
 

“A situation where the farms and the roads have been taken over by hoodlums will make effective harvest and proper storage difficult to achieve,” the economic analyst said.
 

AFAN Chairman in Oyo State

The AFAN Chairman in Oyo State, Mr John Olateru, urged the government to strategically beef up food reserves by getting back all the silos that had been sub-leased to private investors, stressing: “this is one of the reasons for food scarcity in the country.


 
He noted that some of the silos leased to some private firm were not being used for the desired purpose.
 

“All those companies do is to mop up all they want to buy.

They don’t care about the prices or other things; they only use their activities to disrupt the market.
 

“Government must, of necessity, get all its silos back so as to use them to ensure food reserves,” he said.
 

Olateru, who lauded the government for inaugurating a committee saddled with the responsibilities of purchasing food produce from farmers towards ensuring food reserves, urged the committee to involve farmers’ associations in order to be effective.
 

“This is a welcome idea because it is during the harvesting period that prices crash due to low demands.

If the committee can do the mop up then, that will help farmers a lot.
 

“It will also help in stabilising the prices and encourage farmers to continue their business,” he said.
 

Tope Abolade

An Ilorin-based commercial farmer, Mr Tope Abolade, said that crops storage and preservation, as a precaution against food scarcity and post-harvest wastages, was a good method to sustain food security.

He advised Nigerians to willingly get involved in farming, with the mindset that the consuming population was high.
 

Abolade decried situations where farming was still perceived as an occupation for people of low class or the unemployed.
 

“History has shown that in a typical traditional society, food security used to be at the family level, although it was also seen as a collective responsibility by the community.
 

“It is believed that the colonial administration introduced the idea of state food security to replace the traditional food security system.
 

“At independence, government took over the responsibility of feeding the nation to ensure that there was enough food in state granaries to avert hunger”, he said.
 

Abolade listed other factors undermining the agricultural sector to include: political instability, unfavorable policies, challenges of land tenure system, poor credit facilities, bad roads as well as absence of technical know-how, farming equipment and storage facilities.
 

“Government must make up for the past and deal with the present, without forgetting the future.
 

“We must, however, appreciate the federal government for improving the face of agriculture in Nigeria and its efforts at sustaining agricultural processes, especially for commercial farmers.
 

“We particularly appreciate the loans, the subsidies, the improved farming methods and produces as well as the off-takers scheme, but we still do not have enough storage facilities and enough industries that process farm produces into preserved state.
 

“It will interest you to know that as much as we have hunger in the country today, there are still lots of wastages in the agricultural chain.
 

“So, there is the need for government to push out funds for farmers to make storage facilities, shelters as well as pesticides and preservatives available at subsidised rate,” Abolade said.
 

Olubunmi Omotesho of Department of Agricultural Economics and Farm Management

According to Prof. Olubunmi Omotesho of Department of Agricultural Economics and Farm Management, University of Ilorin, Nigeria loses between 30 per cent and 70 per cent of cowpea agricultural yield to post-harvest due to absence of efficient storage system.

Research, he said, had shown that Nigerian farmers were faced with the challenges of production management techniques as well as the extension needs.
 

He further noted that the adoption of improved technology was a key factor in raising crop productivity.
 

According to him, research on cowpea production by farmers in Kwara showed that majority of farmers still use the traditional storage techniques, with only a few of them using the improved modern practices, such as cribs and silos.
 

Omotesho also identified inadequate credit facilities, high cost of and poor access to improved storage facilities as constraints to efficient storage practices in the country.
 

He emphasised the importance of small-scale farming in the country, describing it as a system of farming characterised by low asset-base, low fixed capital investment, labour intensive practices and small family sizes.
 

The agricultural expert identified small-scale farming as driver of the rural economy and enhancer of local development, while asserting the multi-dimensional roles of the farmers.
 

He called for favourable agricultural policy intervention for small-scale farmers in order to produce stable quantity of food for the nation.
 

The don also advised governments at all levels to help small-scale farmers in providing adequate capital, access to markets information and avoiding spoilage resulting from poor storage system and high cost of transportation for agricultural produce.
 

Patricia Pessu

Dr Patricia Pessu, the Executive Director of Nigeria Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI), Ilorin, said that the institute had developed several technologies that fits into the scheme, adding that the technology needed to be deployed with a national strategy.
 

”Storage technologies for crops can be provided in strategic locations where the communities have comparative advantage.
 

”These appropriate technologies, if deployed with a national strategy, will go a long way in mitigating post-harvest food losses in various communities across the country and providing a reliable buffer for the national food reserve.
 

”Consequently, this will ensure regular availability of food year-round and eliminate incessant price hikes, which is a common experience in Nigeria,” the executive director said.
 

According to her, the experience with the government’s response to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in providing food as palliatives has shown clearly that the national strategic food reserve is grossly inadequate.
 

National Bureau of Statistics

She said that recent reports by National Bureau of Statistics showed that the country had experienced a very serious hike in food prices in the last six months, thus significantly affecting the livelihoods of many families.
 

”The situation is likely going to be exacerbated by the war in Ukraine due to the dependence of many African countries on grains from that part of the world.
 

“This calls for urgent steps to mitigate fool losses at every point of the food value chain,” Pessu said.
 

Ola Ajila

Dr Ola Ajila, of Faculty of Agriculture, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, called for collaboration between government and agricultural engineering sector to curb post-harvest losses across in the country.
 

Ajila said that agricultural engineering sector must be strengthened to develop intermediate storage and processing technology that would be affordable to individual farmers and groups.
 

To prevent food wastages, she said that there must be an effective storage, especially food bank, for preservation of farm produce.
 

The don recommended establishment of a farm produce marketing centre in each of geo-political zone, where government could purchase farm produce from farmers for storage during surplus.
 

“Government can process or preserve the farm produce for the off-season, when they will be selling to the public from the food bank.
 

“Aside storage, farm produce can be processed so as to add value, while government can also strengthen the agricultural extension advisory agency for effective dissemination of technologies to farmers.
 

“This is the major organisation that works directly with farmers at the grassroots.

The research institute should also be motivated for effective performance.
 

“Most importantly, the linkage between extension and research need to be strengthened, monitored and well-coordinated,” she said.

Ajila also said that courses in agriculture must be strengthened at all levels of education and made compulsory.
 

“Students must also be taught more attractive ways of making agriculture course technology-driven, instead of manually-driven as we have in the schools today.
 

“If agriculture is practised with the appropriate technology and marketing system, the youth will be further encouraged,” she said.
 

Ajila advised Nigerians to change what he called their negative attitude toward agriculture
 

Jumoke Bakare

Mrs Jumoke Bakare, a Deputy Director in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ondo State, said it was important for the federal government to beef up strategic food reserves for food to be available and affordable all- year round.
 

“As the country is fighting insecurity all over, food security is also important for the nation to survive and for economy to grow,” she said.
 

The director said provision of efficient and affordable food reserves would help in reducing post-harvest loses in the food storage process.

She also said hand-held machines and simple farm equipment, such as dehydrators, could be made available to farmers to preserve some perishable foods, such as vegetables, and would still retain its nutritional value.
 

Bakare urged the government to provide enabling environment for private investors to invest in food reserves.
 

She also called on the federal government to make policies that would favour the private sector, as it cannot do it alone.
 

Chairman of AFAN in Ekiti

Chairman of AFAN in Ekiti, Mr Adebola Adeniran, blamed incessant increase in prices of food on lack of preservation of farm produce and grains after harvest.
 

Other stakeholders in the agricultural sector in the state also pointed out that proper handling and secure post-harvest system were crucial to achieving food security in the country.
 

According to them, lots of human and material resources are being wasted annually due to non-secure post-harvest system.
 

Oluwashina Damilare

Mr Oluwashina Damilare, a cash crop farmer, said that failure to safeguard crops after harvest could lead to major losses and wasted efforts during the growing and harvest seasons.

He said that in severe cases of post-harvest food losses, it could cause business failures and loss of income, especially for small-scale business holders.
 

Damilare noted that one-third of the produced foods for human consumption were lost during post-harvest, adding that this required urgent government attention.
 

According to him, lack of secure storage facilities remained one of the contributory factors to post-harvest losses, even as he decries dependence of many small- holder farmers on traditional storage practices which damaged their harvests.
 

He urged the country’s agricultural research institutes to find lasting solutions to post-harvest-induced losses.
 

Messrs Benjamin Adeoye

Messrs Benjamin Adeoye, Oluropo Dada and Olatunji Ayegbusi, both AFAN chiefs in Ekiti, called for collaboration among the three tiers of government in expanding the nation’s food reserve mechanism for future benefits.
 

“With such collaboration, relevant government agencies can work together to ensure that we have enough food reserve for any emergency,” he said.

Babajide Oso

An Agricultural expert, Mr Babajide Oso, appealed to the federal government to intensify efforts at subsidising more food preservatives and processing equipment for farmers.
 

Oso, who commended government for subsidising farm inputs, called for more efforts to curb wastage of farm produce, especially during the harvest season.
 

He was of the opinion that many farmers, especially those in rural areas, lacked enough education and awareness on preservation methods.
 

Oso called for siting of food processing firms in rural areas, which should be accompanied with provision of good roads, for easy access to raw materials.

com)

NewsSourceCredit: NAN

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