Nigeria Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI), in its efforts to reduce post-harvest losses and improve the quality of food across the country has commenced the use of hermetic steel drums for the storage of dried durable products.
Hermetic Storage according to the research institute is a method of using sealed, airtight units to control moisture and insects in the storage of dried agricultural commodities.
Addressing newsmen virtually while rolling out the first batch of steel drums to farmers across Nigeria, Dr. Patricia Pessu, Executive Director NSPRI said that the hermetic storage restricts gas exchanges between the internal and external environments and the stored commodity, maintaining the initial levels of moisture and controlling pests by the lack of oxygen.
She said that the available oxygen in the internal ecosystem is reduced to lethal or limiting the respiration of any living organism within the system.
“Postharvest value chain is important in ensuring food safety and security in Nigeria, especially with respect to properly dried staple agricultural commodities.
Preservation of these commodities (grains, dried products from yam, cassava, potatoes, fruits, vegetables, fishery, meat, among others) from season of surplus using appropriate and safe storage practice will benefit all actors along the value chain (farmers, processors, marketers, traders, transporters, consumers) in terms of monetary, health and protect agricultural economic values of the country.”
Pessu also stated that the hermetic steel drums which were sourced from the first and only United Nations (UN) Certified steel drum factory in Nigeria, Pacegate Limited – a subsidiary of Hana Group and Manufacturer of steel drums, have been built tested and certified to carry agricultural produce with no leakages.
In addition, according to her, the drums are environmentally friendly and have been incorporated with anti-rust and coated with food grade lacquer which protects it from rust and enhances food safety.
Umesh Amarnani, Managing Director, Pacegate Limited while speaking at the briefing, said players in the agricultural Industry should adopt modern techniques and take advantage of local technology in line with global standards that will not only increase yields but also protect the health and environment.
“Our steel drums are safe, reliable, cost-effective and sustainable and designed to provide efficient storage of dried agricultural produce. I commend the NSPRI for taking the initiative to sensitise stakeholders in the agricultural value chain on the immense benefits of the steel drums”.
He said with the use of the hermetic steel drums, dried agricultural commodities such as grains, pulses, fruits, vegetables, fisheries and livestock can be effectively stored while reducing the impact of pesticides and aflatoxin contaminations.
Speaking on other benefits of the drums, he said it would eliminate the fear of damage by stored product pests (insects and rodents) thereby assuring food safety and protecting economic value of the products.
He said there is no requirement of the use of chemicals, thereby eliminating the possibility of food poisoning and additional costs that may have been incurred as a result of use chemicals.
He added that the drum can be used to store multiple crops at the same time and stored products can be consumed whenever the need arises.
“The hermetic drum has a lifespan of over thirty years with a payback period of less than three years. The technology is fire and water proof, gender friendly and easy to use with relatively low maintenance.
“The drum is robust and can be transported with no damage, retaining their air tightness,” he said.