Increasing resilience through improved on-farm storage by smallholder farmers is actually money in the house. In order to improve on-farm storage practices, the following issues could be considered.
- Effective Drying Method – The drying of agricultural products in low- and middle-income countries is still a work in progress. The usual drying methods of spreading products on the bare ground along the roadside can introduce impurities and diseases. The impurities can cause damage to machinery and affect consumers tastes. Also, the droppings of animals during drying can lead to deadly diseases like Lassa fever. Farmers should be able to produce quality products that meet both grading and healthy standards. The use of the Household Tent Dryer developed by Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI) has been found effective to address these challenges. The transfer of this product to local fabricators and the adaptation by the farmers will enable quality and healthy products.
- Pesticide Applications – For the farmers to turn food into money, the products should be stored over a reasonable period after the glut season to appreciate in value. One of the challenges during this period is storing the products out of reach of pests, even when the products were adequately dried. The easiest option left for farmers is the use of chemicals. The use and misuse of chemicals by farmers and food marketers is a serious challenge. Many chemicals in use are either banned or misapplied resulting in health issues for the consumers. While advocacy for the use of hermetic storage for food preservation is essential, we need to increase research on the use of safer and non-toxic chemicals in food storage. The recent breakthrough by the researchers in NSPRI on the development of inert dust and Diatomaceous earth for pest control in storage should be further studied and marketed, with product development and popularisation for usage by farmers and marketers of agricultural products.
- Development of Small-Medium Scale Enterprises (SME) in Postharvest – Food production systems in developing nations are centred on small farmers who have no means to meet the stringent quantity and quality demands in postharvest. A large quantity of food passes through multiple food handlers and middlemen. Control is more difficult and there is greater risk of exposing food to contamination and adulteration. The cost to build and operate high-tech storage structures that will meet the demands for hygiene, health, and labour may be insurmountable for small farmers. The long-term solution to sustaining demand for food products lives in building the trust and confidence of SMEs in the quality and safety of the food supply system. Government and funding agencies should come up with policies that can empower SMEs to finance infrastructure requirements for effective and adequate postharvest activities.