The Federal College of Horticulture, Dadinkowa in Yamaltu-Deba Local Government Area of Gombe State has organised a five-day training for 250 women on post harvest process and management of agricultural produce.

The training, according to Provost of the College, Prof. Fatima B. J. Sawa, was inspired by the need to arrest the wastage farmers suffer during harvest.

Beneficiaries were taught new ways of storing crops without using harmful chemicals or using it in the right proportion.

”In Nigeria, we produce a lot of crops but encounter a lot of losses during surplus and marketing due to little knowledge about processing and packaging.

“So, we felt it was important to impart this knowledge to women as most of them are involved in these processing activities to ensure that we minimise these wastages.

“In vegetables like tomatoes for instance, more than 50% of the harvest is wasted and we don’t want that to continue because if we are talking about diversifying Nigeria’s economy towards agriculture, we should maximise production, processing and marketing.

“We should also ensure value addition so that our products are acceptable for export,” said Prof. Sawa.

The training focused on cereals and vegetable crops, such as tomatoes and pepper. It also looked at tree crops, such as mango, citrus and banana.

She said: “People used to store these products –cereals and pulses by bathing them with dangerous chemicals and put them in the silos for storage.

“But now, there are new methods of storage that you can use some herbs and plant materials that are not harmful. There are also polythene materials that you can safely store products in and they will not be infested by weevils or other insects.

“Even if they are going to use chemicals, we taught the right quantification so that safe use of the pesticides can be guaranteed; mostly they don’t even know or care about the dosage but will just mix everything together.

“So, we have now shown them that even if they have to use pesticides, it should be according to the recommended standard or proportion, such that it should not be harmful to man.

“For the vegetables and tree crops, we taught how to produce them into juices, ketch-up, jams for long term storage to improve the shelf life and also the use of some natural preservatives. With this technology, tomatoes could be stored up for up to a year without problems,” she said.

Prof. Sawa said the training was sponsored by the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Participants were given juice extractors and processing equipment.

Nwafor Eucharia, an applicant from Eboyin state and a 2014 graduate in Agric Management and Extension from the Federal College of Agriculture, Isi-Agwu, said she hoped that the training would help her to become self-employed.

Wusila Mamuda, from Dadinkowa, said: “This year again, the new things we have known about processing and storage of fruits, vegetable and cereals can help a lot if we engage in them.”

Source: thenationonlineng.net

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