Post-Harvest Losses, Solar Energy

Post-Harvest Losses, Solar Energy

Stakeholders rue post-harvest losses, advocate solar energy to curb wastage - Punch Newspapers

The most widely read newspaper in Nigeria

10/25/2021 12:53:00 AM

Stakeholders rue post-harvest losses , advocate solar energy to curb wastage - Punch Newspapers

The most widely read newspaper in Nigeria

24 October 2021With the increasing world population, world food production is not sufficient in meeting the demands of the surging human population. Africa is not left out in the increase in food demand, especially Nigeria, seeing as it is the most populous African nation and farmers in food-producing states now in the grip of killer herders.

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), commenting on the food shortages plaguing the country during his nationwide broadcast commemorating the nation’s 61st independence, noted that food prices had been going up due to artificial shortages created by middlemen who, he said, had been buying and hoarding essential commodities for profiteering.

However, food inadequacy is not the only issue bedevilling Nigeria and the African continent at large; preserving available ones seems to be an even greater problem. Since most available food preservation methods are energy-dependent and as Nigeria suffers a paralytic power supply, the methods had proven ineffective.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, each year, approximately one-third of all food produced for human consumption in the world is lost or wasted. In only the year 2007, about 1.4 billion hectares of land – 28 per cent of the world’s agricultural area – was wasted by growing food that was not consumed; an area larger than Canada and China.

The FAO projected that annually, Nigeria records $9bn (N3.5tn) post-harvest losses. This situation forces Nigerian farmers to sell off their produce at near giveaway rates as they lack the facilities to store their agricultural produce for they either sell the crops or incur heavier losses.

Recent studies indicated that while post-consumer food waste accounted for the greatest overall losses among affluent economies, food wastes were higher at the immediate post-harvest stages in developing countries and wastage of perishable foods higher across industrialised and developing economies.

Food waste is a much bigger problem than many people realise. Nearly one-third of all food produced in the world is discarded or wasted for various reasons. This equates roughly to nearly 1.3 billion tons every year.A new report by the United Nations on food wastage identified food wastage in Nigeria per citizen as the highest in Africa. The report indicated that a Nigerian trashes at least 189 kilogrammes of food every year, amounting to a total of 37.9 million (37,941,470) tonnes of food every 12 months.

The World Resources Institute noted that reducing food waste by half would benefit the environment significantly by reducing the need for land, water, and other resources to grow food. It added that cutting food waste in half would lower greenhouse gas emissions by 1.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year by 2050. The institute also notes that 24 per cent of the water used for agriculture is lost through food waste every year. This amounts to about 45 trillion gallons.

It has been discovered that 45 per cent of foods spoil due to a lack of cold storage facilities. The food items most prone to spoilage are perishable foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. This is so because as soon as they are harvested, they start to deteriorate having been cut off from their source of water and nutrition. They immediately start to lose weight, flavour, texture, appeal and nutritional value but cooling has been found to significantly slow down the rate of deterioration by increasing their storage life.

The International Energy Agency in its 2011 Solar Energy Perspectives: Executive Summary stated that solar energy offered a clean, climate-friendly, abundant and inexhaustible energy resource to mankind, relatively well-spread over the globe.Solar energy is the energy the earth receives from the sun, primarily as visible light and other forms of electromagnetic radiation and probably the most readily available renewable energy source on earth. But its availability and characteristics vary strongly from one region to another.

Solar power potential is highest in regions close to the equator, which overlap with many countries of the Global South. Especially in off-grid areas, the use of solar energy in agriculture can considerably enhance livelihoods, enabling access to irrigation, cooling, drying and other agri-food processing devices.

The availability of solar energy is greater in warm and sunny countries—those countries that will hold most of the world’s population and economic growth over the coming decades. They will likely contain about seven billion inhabitants by 2050 versus two billion in cold and temperate countries. Thus, there is increased urgency in addressing the twin problems of energy and hunger facing these parts of the world in this century.

Owing to the latitudinal location of Nigeria, it is richly endowed with abundant sunshine all-year round. This factor provides an ample opportunity for the country to address its energy problems and immensely reduce food wastage. Read more: The Punch Newspapers »

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