Amid quest by Nigerian governments at all levels to drive diversification of the economy away from oil base, a World Bank sponsored campaign for agro-product preservation technology has commenced in the country.
Food technology experts at an investment forum last week in Lagos canvassed for application of Flash Dryer technology for agricultural produce in order to make them less perishable and stem the magnitude of wastages amongst small and medium scale agribusinesses.
They posited that there was the need to resuscitate and boost these businesses with the technology in order to get their products into export market to attract foreign exchange, as well as stimulate the nation’s economy.
Presently, over 40 per cent of agricultural products in Nigeria are lost to high moisture content which could have been easily prevented with the Flash Dryer technology. According to Prof. Abdul-Lateef Sanni, a food science and technology expert who is the Dean, College of Food Science and Human Ecology of the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, FUNAAB, “the reason for the forum is to address the recession and quest for diversification of Nigeria economy and to encourage us to bring out some best technology that Nigerians can use to add value to agricultural commodities.
“Secondly, the Federal Government of Nigeria just launched agricultural promotion policy aimed at encouraging local and export market opportunities for Nigerians. “Therefore, we are showcasing abilities to reducing post harvest losses using Flash Dryer which is the best opportunity now than before.
“There is no forex to import equipment, so we are saying we have some technologies we are taking to other countries that we can actually buy into and go on with our agribusiness investment. “One of the uniqueness of the Flash Dryer is the fact that it has 20-23 percent internal rate of return and has led to 50 percent reduction in fuel consumption.” “There are some value-chain activities we have in the past that government needs to sustain, one of them is what we are promoting at this forum”. He disclosed that there are agro-based SMEs that are moribund due to this problem of lack of preservation technology, and though the Bank of Industry is trying to help some of them only a few have received the Flash Dryer.
“So these are the areas where government’s intervention is needed by spending more on this technology in order to resuscitate the moribund industries and also strengthen the large scale industries that are working hard to sustain their enterprises. The forum was organized under the initiative of the World Bank Council for Agricultural Economy in West and Central Africa, targeted at “Up-scaling the Nigerian Flash Drying Experience for Sustainable Regional Trade and Income Generation in West Africa”, UDESWA.
Sanni said, the World Bank and UDESWA are up-scaling the flash drying experience to other countries like Sierra-Leone, Benin Republic and Ghana, adding: “we are about to end the project and we felt to share some of the findings to the would-be investors and some active players in the Small Medium Enterprises, SMEs, in Nigeria before we go to other countries.” He stated: “This is a technology that can be used to preserve commodities because the bulk of what we produce in Nigeria is lost, 40 percent is lost to wastage at post harvest. If these products are dried they can stay long period of six months and up to a year and that means we will lose nothing again to wastage and then we have value-added products.
“When we talk about technology, what comes readily to mind is China, Brazil as they were. Some of these technologies are available locally, so we do not have to spend forex to get these, once we get them locally, it boost local economy and this particular technology is one, there are several others lying fallow.