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‘Agric processing averts food insecurity, attracts forex’ .

“As the challenges of food insecurity and climate change continue to assume a frightening dimension, there is the need for efficient preservation of food crops for industries, livestock and man’s existence,” says Eli Kolo Tsado, a professor of Crop Production, Federal University of Technology Minna (FUTMINNA), Niger State.

Tsado said quality processing and storage of food crops make them durable, attractive and valuable. They also go a long way in mitigating global food insecurity.

Tsado spoke on the theme: The end of crop storage is the beginning of new products.

Tsado said: “The benefits of crops processing are numerous. It helps to make food available even during the off-season. It helps in the durability of food crop products. It adds value to the produce. It creates room for commercial agriculture, thereby promoting agricultural activities. If we process our food crops regularly, then more food will be in our food reserve, which will then aid in adaptation and mitigation of climate change. Processing provides raw materials for further studies and for industrial uses. Through processing, some materials are produced (by-products), which can be used for formulation of animal feed.”

The don observed that agricultural products provide raw materials for industry workers, while industries in turn provide finished goods (consumables, tools and equipment) used in carrying out agricultural activities.

He noted that post-harvest activities can make a big difference to the financial impact of small-scale agriculture

He said: “Agricultural processing takes place after the crops are produced. It is simply transforming the primary agricultural products into other useful products. Or better still, it is any activity that maintains, raises the quality or changes the form or characteristics of an agricultural product. The ultimate aim of processing is to preserve or improve the quality of agricultural products and thereby minimising losses.”

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He continued: ‘’Agric produce processing gives income to a farmer and improves his standard of living. When a country processes her food crops, then exportation will be high, thereby improving her foreign exchange earnings. Processing provides employment for individual and the masses. Through agric processing of crops like sugarcane, bio-fuel is produced, which is then used to generate farm or industrial power. The siting of processing factory in rural areas attracts development to the areas.”

He said it is an important marketing function which involves holding and processing goods from the time they are produced until they are needed for consumption.

In Nigeria, Prof. Tsado said storage of food crops and other agricultural produce(s) is at farm or grass root level, middle level and large or commercial level. He listed duration of storage, size or scale of storage and principle of storage, as the basic classifications of agricultural storage.

“The on farm storage technology includes storage in gourds, pot, drum, tins, pit, hanging on trees, platforms, heaps, baskets, polythene bags, sacks, rhombus, and calabashes. The middle level storage technology is for farmers who produce at fairly average quantity. They use ventilated structures such as mud walled rhombus and cribs. The commercial level storage techniques are for large scale farmers, traders, exporters and agro-based companies. Their structures are mainly silos and warehouses,” he said.

Tsado observed that indiscriminate importation of food discourages local farmers and processors, bad roads, lack of storage structures, non-availability of processing machines in rural areas where the bulk of agricultural produce comes from.

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“A ban should be placed on the importation of crops such as rice, while commensurate effort should be made to encourage local production, processing and marketing of such crops. It is pertinent that there should be synergy between post-harvest technology and other areas of agricultural engineering. Storage structures for local use should be adequately provided. There should be regular training of manpower at all levels to enhance food processing and crops’ storage. Among other important things, government should provide extension services to farmers as well as proper linkage between producers and end users,” the don recommended.

The event had in attendance, Prof. Abdullahi Bala, the Vice-Chancellor (VC); Prof. Ahmed Iyaka, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) Administration; the Registrar, Mr. Amos N. Kolo and Bursar, Hajiya Hajara Kuso, among other top principal staff of the institution.

Source: The Nation Nigeria

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