Farmers urge government to tackle challenges in preserving farm produce
• Ogbeh distributes cassava stems to Benue farmers
Farmers have appealed to the Federal Government to introduce measures that will end post-harvest losses in cash and food crops.Technical Adviser of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Dr. Tunde Arosanyin, made the appeal in Abuja yesterday, asserting that the prevalence of post-harvest losses was a threat to the quest for food sufficiency and diversification efforts of government.
Arosanyin said farmers faced preservation problems, just as there are lots of challenges in preserving farm produce after harvest. “This constitute to about 30 to 35 per cent loss of farm produce that we laboured for.
“When you visit Kano, you will see a lot of tomatoes wasting away after four days of harvest. The same thing in the south: you will see banana rotting away.”According to Arosanyin, produce meant to be exported to European countries including perishable goods, are littering the ports because of the delay and poses serious losses to the owners.
“Our preservation and silo policies have to be reviewed urgently to save us the stress of counting our losses instead of gains,” he added.The AFAN’s technical adviser also urged government to allocate more money to agriculture sector in line with the Maputo Declaration.
Meanwhile, the National President of the Nigeria Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST), Dr. Chijioke Osuji yesterday said that attracting investments into various commodity value chains was key to actualising the objectives of the Agriculture Promotion Policy (2016-2020).
The Federal Government recently released an agricultural policy document titled: The Agriculture Promotion Policy for 2016 to 2020 also known as The Green Alternative.
Under the policy, government plans to consolidate gains of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) and further promote the value chains of agriculture in the country.
Osuji said, “It is already known that investments that promote post-harvest business opportunities also drive agriculture value chains forward by creating take-off opportunities for producers. It will also ensure that farmers get good returns from their operations.”
He said it also implies, therefore, that a lot of investments should be directed toward food processing business development and food product marketing.In a similar development, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbe at the weekend distributed cassava stem to farmers in Otukpo Local Government Council of Benue State.
Distributing the stems developed by the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP-Nigeria), Ogbeh said they were enriched with Vitamin ‘A’ to enhance nutrition.
Ogbeh said government had also concluded plans to build dams in rural areas to support irrigation, as the country could no longer depend solely on rain for food production.The Ochi Idoma, Chief Elias Obekpa, said farming was a God-given vocation and the only means of livelihood of the Idoma people.
Represented by Chief Anthony Adejo, a palace chief, Obekpa urged his followers to heed President Muhammadu Buhari’s call to return to the farm.He said it was time for Nigerians to wake up from their slumber and turn to agriculture. According to him, government must address the issue of unemployment.
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