From Debra Ajulo, Ilorin
The lawmaker representing Ilorin-East and Ilorin-South Federal Constituency at the National Assembly, Alhaji Abdulganiyu Cook-Olododo has stressed that one of the strategies to increasing food production is to empower local farmers with skills which will include modern ways of post-harvest activities.
Alhaji Cook-Olododo stated this on Thursday while declaring opening the second batch of the training on post seasonal intervention programme, held in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital.
The lawmaker, who was represented by the former Ilorin-East chairman, Alhaji Saad Ahmed Babatunde noted that agriculture is the mainstay of the nation’s economy that generate more than eighty percent employment.
Olododo lamented that, “before the discovery of oil, agriculture is the mainstay of Nigerian economy that generate employment above 80%.” He however noted that the present Government of President Muhammadu Buhari is passionately canvassing for economic diversification to non-oil sector and agriculture is playing a leading role in the campaign.
Speaking further, the lawmaker said, “one of the failures of agricultural policies for addressing developmental challenges in developing countries particularly Nigeria is the lopsidedness of concentrating efforts on production at the expense of postharvest activities.”
He therefore identified empowering farmers with modern ways of drying agricultural produce as one of the strategies to increasing food production in the country.
According to him, eight Solar Dryers would be constructed with four in each of his constituencies to ease the ways farmers dry their farm produces and enhance hygienic food production and sufficiency both in the state and country at large.
In her remarks on the occasion, the Executive Director, Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI), Dr Patricia Pessu said the role of the Institute is to supervise and monitored food projects across the country.
Represented by Dr Adegbola Tayo, Dr Pessu enjoined beneficiaries to use the skills garnered at the training program to improve their livelihood and transform their various communities.
Dr. Pessu further disclosed that over the years, a lot of efforts have been put in place by government and other non-governmental agencies towards increased production said the issue of storage have always been given a lower attention.
She revealed that as a government agency the institute have many technologies developed for storage and preservations. She stressed that the mandate of NSPRI is to ensure improved food storage, post-harvest processing on perishable crops, storage facilities for dry product and also impact on the livelihood of the people by improving their economic wellbeing.
Earlier in his welcome address, the principal consultant of Synergy Impact Consultant Limited, Engineer Joshua Ayodele Adeshina had disclosed that the training program is to broaden the skills and knowledge of the selected participants in the area of post-harvest management with concentration on the use of solar dryer tent in order to ensure food hygiene and prevention of post-harvest loss.
He agreed that production of food crops in Nigeria has increased due to the recent advocacy for the diversification of the economy but lamented that a high percentage of produce is lost due to lack of proper postharvest management especially in the area of frying and storage components required to guarantee food security.
Engineer Adeshina stressed that conscientious effort has to be employed to ensure that wastages that usually result from the lack of in-depth knowledge and simple adherence to the basics of good agricultural practices are avoided.
According to him, given the irregular rainfall this season the need for effective storage system can never be over emphasized. He therefore called on participants to do everything possible to sustain the knowledge acquired during the training to be utilized in their various communities.
Highlights of the opening program were the presentation of working tools to beneficiaries and the commissioning of one of the solar dryers located at Ilota community.
The training program which kicked off on Wednesday came to an end yesterday, Saturday, 10th October, 2020 and was well attended by government appointees, political associates and well-wishers of the lawmaker.