Centre For Food Technology and Research (CEFTER) Benue State University, Makurdi has declared that contaminated food due to poor storage in sub-Saharan Africa has resulted to 1.5 billion cases of diarrhea leading to three million deaths annually.
The centre leader, Dr Barnabas Ikyo, said the 2013 United Nations (UN) report indicated that 95 percent of investment in agriculture research is focused on increasing production with only five percent focused on reducing post- harvest loses.
Ikyo who disclosed this at the University of Mkar, Mkar in Gboko local government area of Benue State during the ACE- Impact retreat organised by CEFTER to brainstorm on ways that will bring innovative ideas to help farmers get value on their produce, said the centre will also go into relevant research that can benefit farmers, industries and the general public.
He said, “The UN report in 2013 also stated that in the last 30 years 95 percent attention has been given to increase in production while only five percent has been given to reducing post-harvest losses which has brought untold hardship for farmers in the state.
“It is estimated that the sub-Saharan Africa losses food valued at about $4.0 billion annually due to post harvest losses, while contaminated food due to poor storage results in 1.5 billion cases of diarrhea leading to three million deaths annually,” he said.
The goal of the centre, according to Ikyo, is to develop a critical mass of well-trained students in the control of post-harvest losses, empower Africans to identify technologies through applied research for reducing post-harvest losses, engage communities, farmers and industries in the development and dissemination of technologies in post-harvest losses among others.
He said CEFTER is already on the process of constructing a Food Technology Innovation Complex that will house over 10 mini factories that will create over 50 jobs for youths in the state.
Earlier, the vice chancellor of the university, Prof Tor Iorapuu informed that over N150million has been made available by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) for the training of the university staff within and outside the country.
While opening the retreat at the University of Mkar, Iorapuu charged the staff members to take advantage of the opportunity and apply for the courses that will enable them to benefit from the funds.
He commended Ikyo and the management staff of the centre for using local crops to produce different goods, adding that the university under his leadership would sustain the programmes carried out by the centre.
In his welcome address, the vice chancellor, University of Mkar, Prof Zacharys Gundu, who commended CEFTER for finding UniMkar worthy to be included in its activities, pledged to contribute to the success of CEFTER programmes.