By 2050, the United Nations has estimated that the world’s population will be around 9billion; with reports showing that Africa will have the highest growth rate among the continents. Hence, all over the world, there has been clamour for ways to increase food production. This articles looks at post harvest losses in a small village in Ogun state, Nigeria. It is the personal experience of the writer.
The year was 2010. The focus of my M. Agric project was on post harvest loss of rice and maize. For data collection, Lufoko village in Obafemi/Owode Local Government Area of Ogun state, Nigeria was visited as one of the villages within the study area of the project.
Data collection was a heinous task. First, the road to the village was very bad – not motorable. At times, the enumerators and I had to trek long distances on foot to meet with some farmers. Second, many of the farmers had different perspective to post harvest losses. While some ignorantly viewed post harvest losses as normal because of the superstitious belief that ‘the earth will receive its own share’; quite a few expressed their helplessness in the situation.
During harvesting, we learnt, many of the farmers’ children (youth) usually retreated to the farm for a few days to assist. Likewise, middlemen (traders) joined en-mass during harvesting and paid the farmers the agreed token for their harvest. This too accounted for post harvest losses as each ‘harvester’ had his/her own fair contribution to the loss. Data was obtained for drying, shelling, and other stages of post harvest processing, including storage.
Truth be told, that was my first time seeing the natural setting of an average rural farm family. It is an experience I cannot forget so easily. The rural households were very rich – with large expanse of land and crops at every growing season, but were impoverished and looked cut off from modern life. As we interacted, asked questions from the well structured questionnaire, my mind ran wild with thoughts…
My Thoughts – questions…
- If these farmers could achieve cultivating this expanse of land with mostly manual labour and insignificant input of technology, then, what will be the result if they and their children were exposed to technology?
- If these farmers could live in these dilapidated buildings, then when suitable buildings are built for them, how fulfilled would they feel?
- Why couldn’t the huge losses at the post harvest stages be addressed holistically in order to increase food availability?
- How would the youth be attracted to agriculture if in this 21st century, production of food grains and other agricultural produce require laborious processes?
- When will production of food be mechanised and all post harvest processes technology-driven; including the provision of storage facilities. This will actually create decent jobs along the value chain of various agricultural enterprises.
- Why couldn’t standard primary and secondary schools be built and other infrastructure provided in the villages to encourage the youth back into agriculture?
- Can’t the children of rural households or farm family be exposed to modern ways of farming through specialised schools or training centres built in their community and thereafter provided with required tools.
- Why can’t there be a farmers day – to honour our farmers?
Someday, when you are in the position to make change happen, please do not neglect the farmers. If we eat today, it is because they have taken a responsibility many of us are running away from. We owe them big appreciation for their significant role in nature’s bounty.