Artificial Intelligence (AI) presents a promising solution to combat postharvest losses in Nigeria’s agriculture sector. The country, with its rich agricultural resources, faces significant challenges in preserving harvested crops due to inadequate infrastructure and storage facilities making it difficult for the country to perform well in its export exchange. As a matter of fact, most of the commonly-cultivated cash crops were exported in low amount, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report for 2023, thereby necessitating the consideration of AI technologies, which is seen to offer innovative approaches to addressing these issues and enhance efficiency of the postharvest process.
One key application of AI, in this context, is the implementation of smart storage systems like that of the Hermetic Steel Drums by the Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI), Ilorin, Nigeria, which was developed with Al, and can detect pest through the appearance of eggs or waste products of metabolism. AI-driven sensors, which can be comfortably fit in storage systems, can continuously monitor environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, and gas levels within storage facilities. So, by employing machine learning algorithms, these systems can predict potential spoilage and alert farmers or warehouse managers in real-time. This proactive approach enables timely intervention, reducing the likelihood of postharvest losses caused by unfavourable storage conditions.
Furthermore, AI-powered predictive analytics can assist farmers in optimising harvest timings. By analysing plant and animal historical data, weather patterns, and crop characteristics, AI algorithms can generate accurate predictions about the optimal time to harvest crops as well as improvement in animal production. This precision allows farmers to minimise the gap between harvesting and processing, reducing spoilage and ensuring a higher percentage of the harvested produce reaches the market in optimal condition. In conclusion, the integration of artificial intelligence in Nigeria’s agricultural production holds tremendous potential for mitigating postharvest losses. From smart storage solutions to predictive analytics, AI technologies offer a multifaceted approach to enhancing the efficiency of postharvest processes, ultimately contributing to food security and economic sustainability in the nation’s agriculture sector.