The Concerned Youth Empowerment Association of Nigeria (CYEAN), a non-governmental organisation, has commenced the training of women and youths in local food processing and storage procedures to reduce post-harvest losses.
Mr Noble Adaelu, the National President of the association, said in Abuja that the training was to sensitize women and youths to sustainable wealth creation via agriculture and reduce food imports in the country.
Adaelu said that the training was also to teach women and youths about the local methods of storing and preserving perishable agricultural produce.
According to him, tomato paste can be produced and preserved with the aid of onions, garlic and vegetable oil for a period of one and a half years.
“It is just for us to have more of our people producing and using our agricultural raw materials, while ensuring that our people have the idea of how to produce and preserve these things to boost our economy.
“Food storage is one of the major problems facing Nigerian farmers and we have different kinds of storage.
“People apply chemical for storage but we let them know that they can use wood ashes to preserve their produce.
“So, we are trying to let them know that food production, processing and storage should not be based on the use of chemicals,’’ .
Dr Carl Oshodi, the Executive Chairperson, African Youth Union Commission, commended the training, saying that it was a way of building the capacity of the youth in their efforts to get involved in agriculture to boost Nigeria’s food security.
“We are supporting the programme because the young people are the leaders, captains of industry and without the needed encouragement, they cannot fulfil their retooling expectations, especially in Africa.
“Africa needs young people to build a new strategy to enhance food security because every society needs food and the only way we can sustain our livelihoods is to eat well and be healthy,’’ .
Some of the participants said that the training would enhance their knowledge of other means of livelihood.
One of them, Mr Susan Ishaka, said: “I have been longing to learn a skill to support my job. What I have learnt here will enhance my ability to start a new business to support my family.
“Tomato is a seasonal crop and sometimes, when it is produced in excess and you don’t know how to preserve it, therein lies the problem; but I have learnt what to do to preserve tomato paste for one year and six months,’’.
Miss Adesuwa Nosawema, a youth corps member, said that the skills she had acquired would facilitate her efforts to start a small-scale business after her service year.
“This workshop is a good one and I have learnt how to make tomato paste and cassava biscuits. Presently in Nigeria, every youth is supposed to have a skill that will enable him or her to eke a living.
“People should no longer wait for white-collar jobs. I intend to start manufacturing cassava biscuits,’’ .
Another participant, Mrs Chinwe Chime, however, urged the Bank of Industry (BoI) to give women small loans to start small-scale businesses