Have you have ever wondered why smallholder farmers especially the ones in rural areas (mostly crop farmers) seem to be the most challenged people on planet earth? Do you remember when we were young and if they wanted to insult you they’d be like “you’ll grow up to become a farmer”. I vividly remember one time I was outside playing (as a kid would) and my mom asked what I wanted to become and I said I want to be like Obasanjo owning a farm. Her response was epic: IT’S LIKE YOU ARE MAD. The response is funny now but wasn’t funny back then and it came because of the ideology that farmers are poor people. But ask yourself, are they? Are they truly poor… before I proceed, this article is meant to motivate the new generation farmers to perform better than “their fathers” in the profession in all areas.
Smallholder farmers are mostly in remote areas, they are not directly linked to the markets, this make them sell their produce after harvesting because they do not have means of processing their harvest and prolong the shelf life of their products. Poor storage is a fundamental challenge in the sense that it encourages and inspires farmer to sell under pressure earning even lesser profits. If the product is not properly handled and stored, the consumers price them cheaply and the farmer makes loss. Farm products are sold at give away prices due to absence of cold storage and post harvest processing facilities.
For tomato farmers- Some waste more than they sell. Limited processing and lack of cold-room storage causes 45%-50% to spoil at farm gate. Another 10% is bruised or damaged during transportation to end domestic market.
In Nigeria (our beautiful motherland) local and traditional methods for storing perishable food like tubers, fruits and vegetables are not really developed and well known compared to method of grain storage. Traditional methods of storage are crude and are not as effective, they are easily accessible to rodent (don’t we hate them all). Also storage facilities with wooden floor are an easy target for termite. Some of the storage facilities are not moisture proof meaning they could easily get damaged by water and cause food contamination. The truth is, improved storage system and techniques have been developed by experts from different institutes but these systems have not been adopted and sometimes not even known to farmers
- Application of research works: Small farms certainly do need new innovations and adaptation techniques. A good farmer is a farmer who knows what to do, when to do it and the tools he needs to do it. There are a lot of research that has been carried out in several institutions about this topic. Knowledge and application of the techniques (research results) would lead to better storage and processing.
- Access to knowledge: This applies to both government officials and farmers. Efficient food production can only be guaranteed by innovation in areas of distribution, production and storage. Training on best farm practices will guarantee increased production and being pro-active by looking for avenues that will give you access to information and recent development in agriculture e.g. Farm excursions (Agrow-tours) http://www.heirsandheralds.com.ng/2018/05/03/agro-tourism/
- Efficient food distribution and processing: Low post harvest losses will boost our food production and circulation when facilities for storage such as drying, refrigeration and processing of agricultural products are made available.
THE WORLD OF TOMORROW WILL BE FED BY FARMERS WHO SOW WISELY TODAY… Aaron (Heirs and Heralds Int’l).