Some agriculture stakeholders in the Northwest have called for the sensitisation of farmers on the need for them to take advantage of the numerous produce storage facilities to avert post-harvest losses.
Speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria on the issue, they observed that Strategic Food Reserve facilitates in some states of the geopolitical zone, were being under-utilised at a time when farmers were incurring heavy post-harvest losses due to poor storage.
Some of the stakeholders even suggested the introduction of annual sensitization programme on post-harvest and commodity preservation techniques to reduces the loss of farm produce.
“There is need for sensitisation on post-harvest and commodity preservation techniques as part of strategic planning in agriculture; embarking on post harvest education of farmers will help reduce loss of farm produce after harvest.
“ Also, this will curtail the ripping-off of farmers by middlemen as owners of farm produce will be in a position to preserve their crops for long and sell same at a higher price”, he said.
He lamented that despite huge investment in the agriculture sector, farmers incurred huge losses annually due to poor preservation technique.
According to him, the Federal Government-owned 25,000 metric tonnes capacity silos in Sokoto State, established under the Federal Government Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR) programme, are being under-utilised .
Also,Alhaji Salihu Ibrahim, former Chairman Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) in the state, said his members were not patronising the silos.
Ibrahim stressed the need to imbibe the culture of proper storage of produce and moping up of excess food items during harvest period to save same for the rainy day.
In Zamfara, farmers in the state said they were still hopeful of bumper harvest in spite of the loss of farm produce recorded in some states as a result of the excessive rainfall recorded this year.
One of the farmers, Alhaji Kabiru Ibrahim, however said that there might be hike in cost of food stuffs, especially rice and other food items because of the high cost of fertilizer, farm inputs, as well as the prevailing security challenges.
He suggested that farmers should be supported with the required facilities for the storage and preservation of farm produce.
According to him, there is need for both State and Federal Government to preserve food items to prevent scarcity and hike in prices as a result of the activities of middlemen.
Meanwhile, the Kaduna State Government said the five silos it constructed would be utilised properly to minimise post-harvest loss of produce, according to Kabir Mainasibi, Permanent Secretary, Ministry for Agriculture.
Mainasibi told NAN that the silo complexes and commodity warehouses were established in various parts of the state.
“The state government has completed the construction of first set of metal silo complexes consisting of the five silos located at Brinin Gwari, Kafanchan, Zaria, Giwa, and Kagarko, each with a capacity to accommodate 5,000 metric tons of grains”, he said.
The Permanent Secretary also revealed that farmers had in the past, recounted how they lost millions of Naira as a result of wastage of farm produce, adding that arrangements had been concluded to establish two additional silos in two Local Government Area of the state.
He disclosed that the silo in Zaria had been leased out to a private company, while the other silos were being managed by the state government.
He said construction of silos in state had helped in boosting the productivity of farmers by allaying their fears of incurring losses resulting from lack of storage facilities.
In Kano, Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in the state, Alhaji Abdulrashid Rimin-Gado, urged the Federal Government to ensure the utilisation of silos across the country to minimise post harvest losses.
He said such measure would ensure food security and discourage hoarding by middlemen that could lead to hike in the prices of farm produce, noting that inadequacy of storage facilities had been responsible for post-harvest crop losses.
Alhaji Tijani Malam, a large scale farmer in Kano, said it had become necessary for the nation to enhance its strategic grains reserves.
He stakeholders and governments at all levels to collaborate in order to minimise post-harvest loss of farm produce being recorded annually.
Malam, who is a retired Federal civil servant and owner of ATIM farms, Kano, noted that farmers were losing billions of Naira annually due to lack of effective storage facilities.
Tafida Umaru, a lecturer at College of Agriculture, Kano, called on the Federal Government to come up with scientific approaches to curbing post-harvest losses by supporting Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRl).
According to him, such support will enable NSPRI meet its mandate of ensuring effective storage system for agricultural commodities.
Speaking along the same line, some farmers in Ingawa Local Government Area of Katsina State, called on government to establish more silos to address post-harvest food losses.
Alhaji Ibrahim Ingawa, Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in the area, said farm produce were being wasted due to lack of storage facilities.
According to him, farmers cannot keep their produce like tomatoes, beans, onions, cowpeas and mangoes for a long period due to lack of storage facilities.
Another, farmer, Malam Sani Mua’zu, urged the Federal Government to build at least 100 public stores in each of the 109 Senatorial districts across the country, where farmers could keep their produce after harvest to minimise losses.