Thursday, March 3, 2011

PROMOTION OF PACKING HOUSES TO REDUCE POST HARVEST LOSSES FOR POTATOES, ONIONS ETC

Twelve countries in the West African sub-region are to benefit from a World Bank-assisted regional agricultural project under the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP) reports Bassey Udo, Next Newspapers (www.234next.com) on its March 3, 2011 edition.

Nigeria is one of the countries to benefit from the $300 million facility. Other countries under the scheme include Ghana, Mali, Senegal, Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Togo, Benin, Gambia, and Niger. The WAAPP project is expected to assist farmers in agro-processing and value addition for agricultural products.

A major problem in agricultural production within the sub region is post harvest losses as the farming community mostly consists of small and marginal farmers. These farmers do not have the economic strength to retain the surplus produce till favourable market price and often compelled to sell their produce immediately after harvest when the prices are low. The solution to this problem lies in providing safe and scientific storage of their produce.

In agriculture, post-harvest handling is the stage of crop production immediately following harvest, including cooling, cleaning, sorting and packing. The instant a crop is removed from the ground, or separated from its parent plant, it begins to deteriorate. Under tropical and sub-tropical conditions, the losses due to poor handling and storage are reported to be in between 40-50 per cent.

The most important goals of post-harvest handling are keeping the product cool, to avoid moisture loss and slow down undesirable chemical changes, and avoiding physical damage such as bruising, to delay spoilage. After the field, post-harvest processing is usually continued in a packing house.

A packing house is a facility where crops are received and processed prior to distribution to market. This can be a simple shed, providing shade and running water, or a large-scale, sophisticated, mechanized facility, with conveyor belts, automated sorting and packing stations, walk-in coolers and the like.

A Packing House in Israel

Typically, crops are delivered to the plant via trucks or wagons, where it is dumped into receiving bins and sorted for quality and size. The crops are then transported via conveyor belts to the grading tables where it is visually sorted into three grades: top quality, average, and orchard run, and is then carried via belts to the packing tables (Wikipaedia).

The World Bank facility should be utilised in adopting technologies that would boost agricultural production and reduce post harvest losses in the sub-region. To achieve this, additional incentives should be given to educated youths to encourage them to go into modern and scientific agriculture. It is the future of the sub-region.

1 comment:

mycompanion said...

Sunday Punch, 06 November 2011
Firm to build N500m agro storage plant in Jos

Written by Jude Owuamanam

An indigenous firm, Bicco Agro Products, is to build a N500m storage tank in Jos, Plateau State, for the storage of agricultural products, especially potatoes and onions.

The project, which will be completed next June, is to be undertaken in partnership with three Dutch companies, Omnivent, Baker Brothers and HZPC, and Wyma from New Zealand.

The Country Representative of the companies, Mr. Nnamdi Ukoko, told our correspondent in an interview in Jos on Thursday that when completed, the storage tank would be capable of preserving fresh farm produce for between six and 10 months with no loss in value.

Ukoko said Omnivent was world leader in the development, manufacturing and installation of modern ventilation and climate technology; while Wyma was a specialist in vegetable processing and fabrication of other handling facilities. According to him, HZPC, which is a world leader in potato production, will provide the seedlings. He said that the project was being executed as a veritable tool for food security in line with the Chinese option adopted by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.

Ukoko said, "We receive the vegetables from farmers, add value by cleaning and preserving them for up to six to 10 months and their value still remained intact. In that way, the products are prevented from weight loss, germination and discolouration during processing through the control of the climatic condition during storage.

"What we have discovered with potato production, particularly in Plateau State, is that the seeds have degenerated and so the yield is low; but under two years, we were able to raise the yield from mere 9.3 tonnes per hectare to 35 tonnes. In that way, we have empowered the farmers and generated wealth through value addition."

He said if the government was serious about improving potato farming, it could generate about N848bn from the existing potato fields in the state.