A training carried out by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Yobe State, North East Nigeria, has improved methods of food storage after the harvest season.
WFP, in collaboration with the Agricultural Development Project (ADP) and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), trained 300 farmers on post-harvest best practices – using hermetic storage technology.
Hermetic storage bags are airtight and waterproof, allowing farmers to store and save grains from infestations or destruction by insects, rodents, mold and moisture, thus preserving them for long periods of time.
A bag-opening ceremony on 10 July 2019 in Gashua, Yobe State, marked the highpoint of the training which aimed to reduce the losses suffered by farmers due to improper food storage.
According to figures by the Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), Nigeria loses some US$9 billion every year due to poor post-harvest management. More than 30 percent of staple food grains (maize, sorghum, millet) are lost due to poor storage, while 60 percent of vegetables perish.
After the training, each of the farmers received eight (8) specially made airtight 50 kg bags to store their grains for six months until the prices of grains rose in the market. The farmers stored cowpeas in the new airtight bags, while others stored theirs in the traditional ways.
“When the bags were opened in Gashua, the results were astonishing,” says Ms. Eden Guizaw, the WFP officer leading the Post-Harvest Loss Management Programme. “90 percent of the grains stored in the traditional way were lost, while 100 percent of those stored in the hermetic (airtight) bags were intact. It was amazing; indeed, beyond my imagination”.
One of the farmers, Hajia Taannabi, recorded a huge profit in her sales by using the hermetic storage bags to preserve her grains.