UNN develops technology incubator to curb post-harvest losses

The University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) has developed a technological incubation centre which would be used to tackle post-harvest losses plaguing farmers across the country.

Prof. Benjamin Ozumba, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, made this known in Abuja on Thursday when he appeared on a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum.

Ozumba, who said that UNN was probably the first university in West Africa to have a technological incubation centre, said that the institution was also planning to develop and build a world-class science park.

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“University of Nigeria is the first university, possibly in West Africa, to have technological incubator.

“There is a group called `AGROMESS’ that has developed an appliance which can be used to market agriculture products.

“One of the hazards, one of the big problems in agriculture is post-harvest wastage. People produce things like maize, if they don’t sell through the evening, the rest will be wastage.

“But now, when you have capacity to market them, you won’t have much capacity to process them.

“This is because if you do not process agricultural produce, you will not make money out of it. The big time money is in produce processing and value chain.

“The incubator is where students can come and express ideas; for them to develop their idea appliances. The students are already involved in the agriculture business in University of Nigeria,’’ he said.

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Besides, Ozumba said that plans were underway to develop and build a world-class science park in the institution, which would be a reference and hub for industry-academic collaboration, while contributing to the growth of the national economy.

According to him, the proposed initiative will be providing alternative and additional tools of thinking for the country, using strategic innovation linkages within the context of the mandate of higher institutions.

He said that the science park initiative would involve a partnership with Israel and Turkey, as the two countries had an impressive track record in that area.

Ozumba said that he was aware of the fact that some extraneous factors such as paucity of infrastructural facilities like electricity and water supply could pose challenges to the proposed science park project.

“For the science park, infrastructural requirements like buildings, electricity, water and sewage are all captured in the project cost; there will be no short cut. It is good to talk about problems but you must find a way of addressing them.

“We are aware of these factors but we have to move on. Besides, the science park will be powered by solar energy which is cheaper than electricity.

“So, electricity should be removed as one of the problem areas in the proposed initiative,’’