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POSTHARVEST ENGINEERING RESEARCH DEPARTMENT

Postharvest Engineering Research (PHER) department is the only department in the Institute saddle with the responsibility of conducting engineering research in postharvest loss prevention of agricultural products and development of appropriate engineering artefacts to curtail losses in postharvest value chain of agriculture. The responsibility covers research in storage and value-addition engineering. The department is also responsible for multiplying hardware of the technologies developed in the Institute, thereby simulating small-scale industries for production of the hardware. It pays attention to the aspect of bringing developed technologies of the Institute up to the mark. It is also charged with the responsibility of converting the functional prototypes into production models by keeping in view the locally available materials, standards and manufacturing processes and tools.

The department has strived to excel in its professional status as a role model for actualising the Institute technological findings into practical outputs. The establishment of the department which has gone through phases has contributed effectively and meaningfully in promoting the Institute’s relevance to the needs of the target users of postharvest technologies.
Engineering activities in the Institute have been outstanding with remarkable contributions to the general accomplishments of the Institute. The engineering research programmes are innovative in both design and contents. The specifically addressed areas of great national interest and concern are appropriate for rural farmers’ adoption and medium and commercial scale utilizations.

The Units (Programmes) Under this Department are:

The department is structured into two units (programmes); equipment development and fabrication, and food processing and packaging.

  1. Equipment Development and Fabrication: This unit is responsible for postharvest research into development of appropriate physical technologies for postharvest handling and storage of crops available in Nigeria. The efforts and inputs of this unit have brought about great achievements in postharvest loss prevention through development of formidable, effective and easily adopted storage systems and value addition facilities. This task involves design, AutoCAD presentation and fabrication of developed technologies. The unit’s workshop has personnel and equipment resources to mass produce the developed technologies to suit end users’ taste. In 2013, the unit was charged with responsibility of producing one model of NSPRI fish smoking kilns for Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in large number. Also in 2017, over 200 units of a model of NSPRI smoking kilns were fabricated for distribution in Osun and Lagos states under the sponsorship of 2016 Federal constituency project of House Representatives arm of the National Assembly. Another notable achievement of the unit is the fabrication and installation of a battery of 2 units of 250 tonnes capacity inert atmosphere silo at commercial farm of Landmark University in Omu-Aran, Kwara state of Nigeria. All the projects were timely and successfully delivered. The unit is not left out in the maintenance of storage structures and value addition facilities. The unit has capacity to train equipment fabricators as well as engineering students from tertiary institutions on industrial attachment. A large number of the two categories have successfully passed through the training programme with remarkable achievements that the unit, the department and the Institute are proud of.

  2. Food Processing and Packaging:This is another research unit saddled with the responsibility of value addition of agricultural produce to reduce losses in postharvest value chain of crops. The specific mandates of the unit include development of food products from crops, hygienic handling and processing of agricultural produce, development of protocol for crop handling, and development of appropriate packaging materials for product protection, acceptability and enhanced marketability. The unit has a laboratory where research work can be carried out. Apart from the laboratory, there are different categories and capacities of value addition facilities at the disposal of the unit to effectively discharge its research responsibilities. The unit has capacity to train farmers, processors and cooperative organizations. It has successfully trained a lot of farmers’ groups, women forum, produce traders and food processors on improved methods of postharvest loss reduction through effective food processing and packaging.

Major Activities of the Department

The activities of the department fall into the following main categories:

  1. Research into development of crop storage structures.

  2. Design and construction of crop storage structures.

  3. Determination of performance characteristics of the fabricated equipment and developed systems through adequate testing and evaluation.

  4. Research into development of packaging materials for crop handling, transportation and storage.

  5. Research into development of facilities for value addition of agricultural products.

  6. Evaluation of physical parameters and environmental factors affecting storage stability of food crops.

  7. Production of developed technologies in large number.

  8. Training and demonstration of newly developed technologies for target users’ adoption.

  9. Maintenance of the developed technologies.

  10. Consultancy services to the public on management of storage structures.