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|Inadequate Storage Facilities: How It Is Affecting Our Agriculture by Fhaysal: 7:53am On Aug 31, 2017|
What is storage in agriculture? Storage in agriculture is simply the act of keeping farm produce ‘safe’ after harvest before taking it to the market for sale or for further processing (Take note of the word safe, the farm produce you intend to keep have to be in good condition or else they get spoilt and you lose your crops even before taking them to the market). Meanwhile, storage facilities are infrastructures that are built primarily to keep farm produce safe before marketing or other intended use, examples include barn, jute bags, silos e.t.c. Storage of farm produce has a lot of significance in agriculture which affects the development of agriculture in Nigeria, although most farmers themselves give little significance to storing of farm produce. I’m not insinuating that farmers don’t store their farm produce, but when we talk about storage, it doesn’t just mean keeping your farm produce in a room and that’s it. No! There are factors to be considered before deeming a room fit to be used as a storage facility (also it could be a bag); temperature, moisture content, security, location e.t.c. The most important function of storage is to keep the farm produce safe from damage by pest or disease before marketing, and for a storage facility to keep the farm produce safe especially the easily perishable ones, the condition of the storage facility has to be optimum. Other importance of storage includes:
1. The storage of goods, from the time of production to the time of consumption, therefore ensuring a continuous flow of goods in the market
2. Storage protects the quality of perishable and semi-perishable products from deterioration
3. Some of the goods e.g woolen garments have a seasonal demand. To cope with this demand, production on a continuous basis and storage becomes necessary
4. It helps in the stabilization of prices by adjusting demand and supply
5. Storage is necessary for some period, for performance of other marketing functions
6. Storage provides employment and income through price advantages.
These are a few of the many importance of storage facilities in agriculture, but most of our farmers lack these facilities and as a result, it affects the development of agriculture in Nigeria on a large scale. The problems of lack of storage facilities in Nigeria are numerous, but on a broader scale, they can be divided under the following:
1. Farmer’s income: Without functional storage facilities, farmers are forced to either produce crop on a small scale or produce on a large scale and sell at a very cheap price, therefore making little or no profit. Storage of produce is almost as important as growing of crops because when crops are harvested and not stored properly, they are prone to be attacked by storage pest and disease which reduces the quantity and quality of the farm produce, thus reducing the income of the farmer.
2. Food scarcity: Generally most farmers in Nigeria practice subsistence farming, but the few ones that engage in commercial farming encounter the problem of food storage. As a result of this, there is fluctuation in the availability of farm produce in the market, atimes even when the produce are available, the prices are high because of their scarcity and as a result, consumers find it difficult to purchase most of these farm produce.
3. Price fluctuation: There is price fluctuation in the market, when the crops are immediately harvested, without functional storage facilities, farmers will be eager to sell their produce quickly especially the easily perishable crops mostly the horticultural crops at cheap prices, and when these produce are scarce their price rises up, and also because during the time when these produce are being sold at a cheaper price, the middle men buy them in bulk and hoard until they become scarce. This particular situation makes farming discouraging to young farmers, as the farmers do all the hardwork but the people that benefits more from it are the middle men.
4. Post harvest losses: Due to lack of adequate storage facilities, the rate of post harvest losses is increasing. Post harvest losses are caused by a number of factors including poor transportation, poor preservation of produce e.t.c, but the major factor of post harvest losses is inadequate storage facilities. According to the permanent secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Sonny Echono, post harvest losses have been estimated to range between 5% and 20% for grains, 20% for fish and as high as 50-60% for tubers, fruits and vegetables. All these losses are due to several factors but when closely studied, lack of storage facilities constitutes about 75%.
These are some of the major effects of lack of storage facilities in Nigeria and if not taken into cognizance, they all pose a threat to food security and agricultural development in Nigeria, certain measure have to be taken. These measures include:
1. Provision of standard storage facilities by the authorities to localities or communities for general use.
2. The government should take the responsibility of buying most of the farm produce from farmers to store and release based on market demand so as to efficiently control market price fluctuation.
3. Farmers should be enlightened on the importance of keeping the condition of the room optimum so as to reduce pest and disease build up.
4. The authorities can provide storage chemicals to use against pest and disease and also teach them how to use it properly to avoid contamination of farm produce.
5. Farmers can be enlightened on use of traditional materials to store farm produce e.g jute bags can be effectively used to store cereals. Jute bags have a lot of advantage over many other bags like plastic as it is natural and keeps for long.
6. Farmers can also be taught on how to build for themselves simple storage places like silos, silage, barn e.t.c. These type of storage facilities are not expensive and can easily be built even by the locals.
These are a few simple measures the appropriate authorities can take to ensure there is adequate storage facilities available to almost every farmer in Nigeria to ensure proper development of agriculture, because when there is an all year round supply of farm produce, Nigeria as a country will have the means necessary to compete with other Nations on international scale when it comes to exporting of farm produce and this will help in adding to the country’s gross income and diversifying the country’s economy.
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