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Don’t tell us percentage damages, tell us what NEPC is doing to reduce spoils, farmers task agency

Nigerian fruits and vegetable farmers have tasked the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) to stop tell them what they know which is high damages in products due to poor storage and preservation.

According to them, what they want to hear is what government and mainly the NEPC is doing to assist them to end the losses.

The agency weekend raised alarm that over 50 per cent of fruits and vegetables harvested in Nigeria get damaged on a daily basis.

NEPC also disclosed that apart from post harvest losses, the country also suffered a huge revenue loss from poor packaging of agricultural produce meant for export.

Answering questions during a one-day capacity building programme organised in collaboration with the Japanese External Trade Organisation (JETO), the Chief Executive Officer of NEPC, Mr. OlusegunAwolowo, said there was no way producers of vegetables and perishable crops could have competitive advantage in the global market without quality packaging system.

Japan’s involvement stemmed from the fact that Nigeria is said to be the biggest exporter of sesame seed to Japan.The workshop tagged “Logistical Packaging Technology for Agricultural Products,” according to Awolowo, was aimed at reducing post-harvest losses arising from poor packaging of agricultural produce.

In his remarks, Awolowo said, “About 50 per cent of Nigeria’s fresh fruits and vegetables are daily damaged as a result of poor packaging, handling and preservation. This capacity building programme will assist the average farmer and exporter to gain better insights into issues relating to global standard on packaging for export.

“Our resolve to collaborate with JETRO and other stakeholders is born out of the need to drastically reduce post-harvest losses among farmers, processors and exporters leading to revenue losses and poor quality produce.

“Needless to point out that a good quality product without efficient packaging is as good as a bad product.”

Explaining more on the Japanese interest, the Managing Director of JETO, Mr. Taku Miyazaki,  who also spoke during the workshop, said that in 2016 alone, Nigeria exported approximately 55,000 metric tonnes, (about N9.35bn worth) of sesame to Japan.

He said there was huge potential in Nigeria’s agricultural sector with the country being number one producer of commodities such as yam, cassava, groundnut and maize.

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