Worried by the rate of waste of fruits in homes and markets, the Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI), Rumueme, Port Harcourt has presented a guide on how fruits can be preserved after harvest.
Revealing these methods in a chat with The Tide in his office in Port Harcourt, the officer in charge of the institute Mr. Simon Robbert said a lot of food is being wasted and that this has given the institute much concern, even as a research establishment for the purpose of preservation and storage.
To that effect, Robbert stated that the institute has developed some facilities that can handle the storage of fruits so as to reduce the rate of rot and mutilation during and after harvest.
According to him, the NSPRI has in its store some of the items developed for the handling and storage of mango fruits, tomatoes and maize as well as oranges which he said will be of help to those trading on these fruits.
He said that tomato is an important food condiment and can be eaten fresh or processed and can grow all over the country but can spoil easily because they contain a lot of water, and require special care to preserve.
Robbert however recommended that spoilage of fruits will be reduced by harvesting in the cool part of the day, and transfer same to cool sheds and pack good fruits in suitable container such as the plastic crates that have been developed by the NSPRI for transportation, which will help those trading on them.
For mango, the NSPRI boss said that mango is a good source of vitamin C and in their fresh form highly perishable, especially under hot tropical condition, adding that the best way to harvest mango is to pluck fruits carefully by hand or by mango picker to avoid mechanical damage, and should be washed immediately to remove the gummy sap.
He said the fruits should be stored wholely in cool store/fruit shed or be stored in an evaporated cooler developed by NSPRI, and can be put into the safety crates also developed by the institute for adequate transportation with minimal spoilage.
The research institute presiding officer maintained that the NSPRI is on the vanguard of increasing Nigeria’s agricultural self reliance through adequate post harvest boss prevention, adding that they have produced domestic storage that can properly store dried maize in air tight containers like metal drums, plastic pots with screw caps and polythene bags.
According to him, the idea is to control infestation by fumigation with phostoxin, with the note that fungi is the cause of degradation of colour of grains due to mould growth, as maize is the most widely cultivated cercal in Nigeria and the major source of energy for animal feed and for production of starch, as NSPRI has extention department to give advise if contacted.