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Control of Post-harvest losses: From class to field

To promote teaching, research and extension in post-harvest sciences to enhance agricultural productivity and industrial output.

Photo of Barnabas IKYO
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Centre for Food Technology and Research (CEFTER), Benue State University.

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Researcher Institution

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI), Ilorin Nigerian Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike Akperan Orshi College of Agriculture Yandev (AOCAY), Benue State University of Agriculture Makurdi, Benue State

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 3-10 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Makurdi, Benue State

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Benue State, a state in Nigeria covers a total area of approximately 33955 square kilometers

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

CEFTER has very close and cordial grassroots support base in Benue State which has the peculiar challenge of food losses after harvest, that our vision tries to address. The foods processed in this place are susceptible to post-harvest losses, leading to an economic loss on the part of both large scale and small-holder farmers. 

Dr. Barnabas Ikyo the leading team member and project manager of CEFTER also has a native connectivity to this place. Being born in Benue state and living there most of his adult life, He is conversant with the social, cultural, economic and most importantly agricultural practices.Having being brought up in a farming community he knows the challenges that plague the area. Also, being a university researcher and small scale farmer himself, he understands how educational research and hands on technological solutions can minimize post-harvest losses.

He has successfully administered a World Bank African Center of Excellence (ACE) project which is producing results; and further funding will help to widen the reach and progress made so far.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

The state derives its name from the River Benue which is the second largest river in the country and the most outstanding geographic feature in the state. It has twenty-three local governments, with the Tiv speaking area having fourteen while the Idoma-Igede area. Location The state’s geographic location in the country is quite unique: it lies roughly in the middle of the country and shares boundaries with six other states: It also shares an international boundary with the Republic of Cameroun on the South-East. 

Benue State experiences two distinct seasons, the wet/rainy season and the dry/summer season. The rainy season lasts from April to October with annual rainfall in the range of 100-200mm. The dry season begins in November and ends in March. Temperatures fluctuate between 23 – 37 degrees Celsius in the year. The south-eastern part of the state adjoining the Obudu-Cameroun mountain range, however, has a cooler climate similar to that of the Jos Plateau. The vegetation of the State consists of rain forests which have tall trees, tall grasses and oil palm trees that occupy the state’s western and southern fringes while the Guinea savannah is found in the eastern and northern parts with mixed grasses and trees that are generally of average height. Benue’s topography is mainly undulating plains with occasional elevations of between 1,500m and 3,000m above sea level.

The state comprised of several ethnic groups: Tiv, Idoma, Igede, Etulo, Abakpa, Jukun, Hausa, Akweya and Nyifon. The Tiv are the dominant ethnic group, occupying 14 local government areas, while the Idoma and Igede occupy the remaining nine local government areas. Most of the people are farmers while the inhabitants of the riverine areas engage in fishing as their primary or important secondary occupation. The people of the state are famous for their cheerful and hospitable disposition as well as rich cultural heritage.

Benue State is the nations acclaimed food basket because of its rich agricultural produce which include yams, rice, beans, cassava, potatoes, maize, soya beans, sorghum, millet and cocoyam. The state also accounts for over 70% of Nigeria’s soya bean production. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, engaging over 75% of the state farming population. The State also boasts of one of the longest stretches of river systems in the country with great potential for a viable fishing industry, dry season farming through irrigation and for an inland water highway. The vegetation of the southern parts of the state is characterized by forests, which yield trees for timber and provide a suitable habitat for rare animals. The state thus possesses potential for the development of viable forest and wildlife reserves.

Benue State possesses a rich and diverse cultural heritage which finds expression in colourful cloths, exotic masquerades, supplicated music and dances. Traditional dances from Benue State have won acclaim at national and international cultural festivals. The most popular of these dances include Ingyough, Ange, Anchanakupa, Swange and Ogirinya among others.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Post-Harvest losses constitute the major factor contributing to food insecurity in Sub-Sahara Africa but are often overlooked. It is estimated that Africa losses food valued at US $4.0 billion yearly due to post-harvest losses. This serious shortfall leads to stunted development, malnutrition, diseases and death of millions of children. Post-harvest technologies currently in use are either too expensive or unsuitable for local environments. Chemicals which are widely used have often proved hazardous.

The WHO estimates that 3 million farmers in developing countries experience food poisoning from pesticides and about 18,000 deaths are recorded yearly. Contaminated food contributes to 1.5 billion cases of diarrhoea resulting in 3 million deaths of children yearly.

Benue State located in the middle belt of Nigeria and usually regarded as the food basket of the nation produces a wide range of crops ranging from grains, tubers, to fruits and vegetables. Huge quantities of these crops are lost due to lack of adequate post-harvest technologies.If these issues are not adressed now, there would be an acute shortfall of food production in the coming years even as population is on the increase with most of the arable land been taken over by rapid urbanization.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Nigerian and indeed African teachers and researchers need to be equipped with adequate facilities to be able to utilize multidisciplinary approaches to embark on high capacity building through teaching, conduct of cutting edge research and promotion of active outreach programmes to address post-harvest food losses. Through the support of the World Bank, the Benue State University has established the Africa Centre of Excellence for Food Technology and Research (CEFTER) to address these challenges. The success of CEFTER will depend on the strong and long standing partnerships between academic, research and extension institutions in Nigeria and the sub region.

The mandate of CEFTER is to promote teaching, research and extension in post- harvest sciences, enhance agricultural productivity and industrial output for the socio-economic advancement of Nigeria and Africa.

The educational research and outreach goals of CEFTER are:

  1. To develop a critical mass of well-trained African students in control of post-harvest losses.
  2. To empower African Researchers to identify technologies that will reduce post-harvest losses.
  3. Development of Technologies through applied research for reducing post-harvest losses.
  4. Engage communities, farmers and industries in dissemination of technologies in post-harvest food losses.

Funding, however, is key to the success of this vision and a universal and multidisciplinary approach is been used to meet this goal.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Farmers are key leaders in their adaptation and researchers and civil society regularly debate and explore how food system should be or how it is performing against social indicators. Researchers often use future casting to support imagining unplanned consequences – however, it is no longer putative to plan silo research. We can change the research system by restructuring diverse research teams; aiding change for research leadership and developing new views of what constitutes research issues/themes. Smallholder farmers require sustainable practices and technologies to increase agricultural productivity. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that by 2050, food production levels need to increase by 170% to accommodate a forecast of 130% rise in the global population. With active research coming from CEFTER, both the farmers who are the producers and consumers are found in a win-win situation.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

In 2050, Benue State will be become a hub of agricultural excellence and even unrecognisable in many ways to now.

There will be far fewer agricultural losses arising from losses of foods after harvest or during processing due to improved agricultural practices and better post-harvest handling and storage technologies. Economic losses of farm produce will be rare because awareness and technological innovations will be the driving force of agricultural production.

The general population will be happier, healthier, live longer, fuller, more productive and rewarding lives because of their nutritional and financial requirements are being met. The state will become self sufficient in terms of feeding its populace while having enough to export.

The vision is granulated into different intervention strategies and various activities are designed for each intervention.

Research on Food Storage and processing: 

Promotion and Consumer awareness: This will include development of effective extension and communication campaigns which will focus on food and nutrition education and food technology messaging highlighting the need to adopt new methods of processing and managing the food system. Social behavioral change communication campaigns using multiple communication tools and platforms to address acceptance issues relating to new technologies.

Value Chain coordination: Multi-stakeholder platforms for all agricultural participants where identification of food safety -relevant issues along the Value Chain will be addressed. Incentives, roles and contributions of each Value Chain actor, engagement in joint problem solving, policy dialogue will be all inclusive. Also local government and community partnerships to overcome market constraints and reduce dependence on private sector investment in value chains of small and marginal farmers will be prioritized.

Since this vision is based on storage and nutrition sensitive agriculture, the regions flora and natural resources will not only be maintained but enhanced. And also because of this, culture will continue to be respected and preserved.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Website

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Itika Gupta

Hi Barnabas IKYO  Great to see you joining the Prize!

We noticed your submission is currently unpublished. Was this your intention? We'd love to have your submission included in the Prize. Even if you've not started populating your Vision just yet, by publishing your submission you can make it public for other teams in your region to see, get in touch and possibly even collaborate with you.

You can publish it by hitting the "Publish" button at the top of your post. You can also update your Vision at any time before 31 January 2020 by clicking on the "Edit Contribution" on top. If you need inspiration or guidance, take a look at the Food Vision Prize Toolkit.
Here is the link to the Prize Toolkit:

Look forward to seeing your Vision published by 31st January, 5:00 pm EST