The Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI) on Wednesday distributed some equipment for processing and storage of fish and grains to some farmers in Rivers State.
Speaking at the event in Port Harcourt, the Executive Director of the agency, Mrs Patricia Pessu, said the equipment would enhance storage, product quality and standards.
Pessu, represented by Mrs Idorenyin Nwaehujor, Rivers Zonal Coordinator of NSPRI, said the agency was poised to tackle problems faced by fish and grains farmers in the country.
She noted that the programme was targeted at 20 farmer cooperative women groups across the local government areas of Rivers.
The executive director stated that the empowerment focused on proffering solutions to post-harvest problems usually limiting local farmers from having real value on their investments.
She advised Nigerian farmers to improve their product quality in line with global safety standards.
Pessu said such improvement would attract foreign earnings on processed agricultural products and also breach the exploitation by meddle-men.
“Today, we distributed some equipment for processing and storage of fish and grains. This equipment would enhance storage, product quality and standards.
“Using the equipment, our local processed products would also be fit for the foreign market.
“We distributed some of our storage inventions – hematic storage drums for storage of grains, smocking kILN for processing/storage of fish and iced fish coolers for storage of fresh fish.
“We also trained beneficiaries on the use and maintenance of the various storage equipment disbursed today,” she said.
She urged the farmers to aspire beyond subsistence farming and strive towards boosting the country’s Grand Domestic Product (GDP).
“Farmer should ensure that dried fish is free from poly-aromatic hydrocarbon and other harmful substances to meet export standard.
“Our smocking kin for instance, is specially fabricated with materials that have been certified by the Nigerian Agency for Food and Drugs administration and Control (NAFDAC).
“We fabricated the outer surface of the smocking kILN with galvanized steel and insulating materials to ensure heat reduction, process standard fish healthy and fit for consumption,” she added .
The executive director also noted that the relationship with farmers over the years had been very beneficial.
“We have been liaising with farmers in the state through the state Agricultural Development Program (ADP) especially in the area of training aimed at boosting the agriculture value chain.
Similar, Mr Kingsley Amadi, the State Project Coordinator of FADAMA, thanked NSPRI for the gesture while also advising beneficiaries to make good use of the equipment.
Responding on behalf of the beneficiaries, Mrs Apapa Apapa, a fish famer, thanked the agency for its commitment to the growth of agriculture.nan