By Palma Ileye
Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri has commended the Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute, NSPRI, for its attainment of Accreditation Certificate in a bid to address the challenge of production and post-harvest losses in the Agric Sector.
The Minister who was represented by the Director, Agric Land and Climate Change Management Service, Engr. Shehu Bello, mni, revealed this at the presentation of International Standard Organization, ISO, Accreditation Certificate to the Minister, in his office, in Abuja.
Shehuri said that the Research Institute, an important Agency under the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development was established in 1948 as West African Stored Products Research, WASPRU, has the mandate to engage in Post-Harvest Storage Research of all Farm Produce, Animal Products and Fisheries inclusive, through the acquisition of enabling infrastructure, tools, equipment amongst others.
He disclosed that Post-Harvest loss was a worrisome situation that threatens the food security, adding that in fruits and vegetables, it could be as high as 50-60% if poorly managed.
According to him, “unfortunately not much attention has been paid to address the problem as much as it is done for production”.
He added that the economic cost of post-harvest losses as reported by Action Aid indicated that N3. 5 trillion was lost annually, stressing that if not addressed, it would have a negative effect on Agricultural components.
The Minister, however, stated that it was worthy of note that the laboratory of NSPRI has been accredited as a testimony of hard work and the determination of the institute to be among the best Research Institutes in the Sub- Sahara Africa.
Shehuri pointed out that, the ISO/IEC 17025 received from ISO would be useful for various testing procedures, sampling and calibration to instill confidence in the Research output.
In his words, “this ISO 1705 accreditation is a proof that the Ministry now has a laboratory that is acceptable for quality management system in place with the ability and competence to provide testing and calibrations results”.
“This accreditation is not for life and could be withdrawn for any stretch of sub-standard practice, hence the institute must sustain, maintain and improve on the service delivery”, the Minister added.
He, therefore, stated that the Ministry would continue to support and ensure that the institute and other Research Institutes are regularly funded to execute their mandate.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary, Agric Research Council of Nigeria, ARCN, Prof. Garuba Sharubutu spoke about the process of obtaining certification and revealed that NSPRI was qualified to receive the Accreditation Certificate having gone through the rigorous exercise and come top in their certification procedures.
In her remarks, the Executive Director, Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute, Dr. Patricia Pessu commended the Hon. Ministers, the Executive Secretary, ARCN, and Committees on Agriculture of Senate as well as the House of Representatives for their immense guidance support over the years.
According to her, “This is a great feat for NSPRI because we can now boast of a laboratory where analysis can be done with quality assurance” adding that the immediate gain of the certification is that NSPRI can now be referred as an institute that contributes to food security and safety in Nigeria.