Post Harvest Loss Reduction
CHIMA C. IGWE
The theme of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science
and Technology (NIFST) conference, held in conjunction with their annual
meeting, was "Post Harvest Loss Reduction: Setting an Agenda for Food Security
for the Coming Millenium".
Sub-themes of the conference are as follows:
- Post Harvest Losses: state of the Nation
- Post Harvest losses: Role of investment capital
- Post Harvest technology: Past, present and future efforts in research
- Post Harvest losses: Implications for food quality and safety.
Highlights of the conference included keynote address, smpossium/colloquim, Technical sessions, plenarry sessions, food exposition/exhibition, cocktail/cultural night, conference luncheon/dinner, and an excursion/tour of the capital city of Abuja.
Participants at the conference included top government functionaries, Head of related international organisations in Nigeria, Heads of Federal and State Ministries, Captains of Industries, Researchers, Academia, Press and the general public.
The conference made the following observations.
i) NIFST had over the past twenty-three years been focusing on a yearly basis, on various problem areas of food scarcity in Nigeria.
ii) The effort of the government is fairly commendable on the approval of the National policy on Food and Nutrition but that not much can be achieved with the policy implementation if the National planning commission is saddled with that responsibility.
iii) Government have not been making use of Research findings in solving problems of post harvest losses.
iv) Clear government policies and total absence of regualtions in the export of agricultural produce (such as kolanut, cocoa, groundnut, etc.) had resulted in the loss of goodwill that Nigeria had earlier enjoyed.
v) So much emphasis had been placed on intensive land clearing, fertilizer distribution and other inputs, at highly subsidised costs with very little or no attention paid to post-harvest loss prevention.
vi) Investment capital is the pivot around which Post Harvest Loss Prevention revolves, and that what is required is an environment condusive for investment in the agricultural sector. Most of the production, storage and processing have remained in the hands of peasant farmers using primitive techniques that are grossly inefficient, largely unsafe, and invariably uneconomical.
vii) Nigeria does not have a National Food Resources Information System that will ensure a coordinated National Food Marketing Infrastructure.
viii) The nation does not have a Technical Assistance Programme designed to achieve coordination and cooperation in all agricultural issues.
ix) There is no coordinated and sustainable food processing technological development.
x) There is the absence of a recognised Institution that regulates the practice of the food profession in Nigeria.
2. The conference therefore recommends as follows that:
i) Government should pay better attention
to suggestions emanating from NIFST's year;y communiques.
ii) A National Food and Nutrition
Planning Commission should be st-up as a matter of urgency under the
supervision of the Presidency. This commission should be manned by Food
Professionals and not government bureaucrats.
iii) Government should make use of
technical information available in our Research Insitutions and through the
information network on post harvest operations, a dedicated website created by
Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).
iv) Government should be more consistent
in policy implementation and regulatory activities on agricultural
v) Government should invest more on
appropriate technology for the handling and post harvest processing of
vi) Government should provide the
necessary capital to embark on improved food production and processing
activities by establishing an Industrial Bank which will source its capital
base from unclaimed dividends by shareholders. The Bank could give out loans
at very low interest rates (between 3 to 5%).
vii) Nigeria needs an efficient National
Food Resources Information System to be put in place immediately by
Government. This will facilitate the development of a viable National Food
viii) The nation needs a technical
assistance programme which will coordinate and cooperate on all agricultural
ix) There is a need to establish centres
of excellence to coordinate our food processing and technology
x) Government must, without further
delay, pass a legislation establishing the Institute of Food Science and
Technology of Nigeria, a council, that will regualte the practice of food
profession in the country.
3. International Conference: The Nigerian Institute of Food
Science and Technology (NIFST) in collaboration with Faculte des Sciences
Agronomiques, Universite Nationale Du benin (FSA - UNB) is organising an
international conference on Food Technology, tagged Cotonou 2000 at the
International Conference Centre, Cotonou, Benin Republic on Monday, 9th to
Wednesday, 11th October, 2000.
The theme of the conference is: "Export Potentials of Foods
from West Africa", with the sub-themes as:
- Small/Cottage Scale Food Processing in West Africa:
- Manpower/Capacity building in small/cottage scale food
- Fabrication of small/cottage scale food processing
equipment in West Africa: Problems and Prospects.
- Effect of West African Food: Guidelines and the role of
- Food processing for export: Employment generation and
poverty alleviation in West Africa.
For further details on the Benin Conference, please
Chima C. Igwe
NIFST, P.M.B. 21023,
Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria
Tel: 234-1-521059 Ext. 134