The Women Environmental Programme, an NGO, says it has facilitated the construction of solar dryer tent to address wastage of agricultural products in Buruku Local Government Area of Benue.
The Programme Officer of the organisation, Tracy Nguavese, made the disclosure in Abuja.
She said the solar dryer tent would improve the drying of pepper, tomatoes, cassava, fruits and vegetables in a more hygienic, healthier and controlled method.
Buruku council has over 80 per cent of adults engaging in farming food crops such as pepper, cassava, soya-beans and tomatoes.
She said huge quantities of farm produce were being wasted, resulting in needless shortage of food items.
According to her, farmers are only able to sell few quantities, with the left over going to waste due to lack of preservative methods and storage facilities.
‘‘The majority of farmers use sun drying for preservation while sometimes selling food crops off at low cost.
‘‘However, it does not guarantee stable output, quality as well as quantity due to unpredictable weather conditions and massive labour effort.
‘‘It has been observed over time that a lot of these perishables get wasted, hence the need to proffer an immediate and sustainable remedy,’’ she said
She stated that the dryer system also targets mainly those who are peasant farmers and consumers in the community.
‘‘This initiative promotes female entrepreneurship and economic empowerment; it increases access to food, resources and boosts commercial activities.
‘‘It also encourages hygienic and healthy living since farm produce and perishables are dried in a controlled environment and are less likely to be contaminated by pest.
‘‘It has created employment opportunities while the drying of foodstuff is made faster and more efficient,’’ she said.
She added that the system had also recorded less post-harvest spoilage of farm produce while labour burden for women had been reduced.
The technology, said, would ensure reduction in post-harvest losses and enhance food security.
‘‘The proportion of women using it has increased as many women now prefer to use this method instead of the traditional open sun drying method.
‘‘The women now decide about how to manage the use of the tent to dry other crops.
‘‘The project is a new technology and can be replicated in other areas, especially in Benue state which is being referred to as the food basket of the nation.
‘‘As a new technique, it presents demand for low cost and stress-free drying method and paves way for sustainable income and surplus preservation alternative to reduce post-harvest losses,’’ she said.