By Phillip Oladunjoye / Snr Correspondent Lagos
Participants at the recent national dialogue on agricultural value chain have canvassed for adequate financing of the sub-sector for it to boost agricultural export as well as provide local industries with the required raw materials.
The National President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Alhaji Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, called on stakeholders in the agriculture sector to develop programmes and activities that will increase Agricultural value chain so as to benefit immensely from the potentials of the sector.
Abubakar, who was represented by the President of the Kaduna Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr. Alimi Bello, at the event held at the Adeyemi Lawson Hall, NACCIMA House, Lagos, noted that agricultural value chain is an important option for agricultural development because higher financial returns could be realised through value enhancing inputs.
He said it also contributes to the improvement in the effectiveness and efficiency of agricultural values.
“It is a known fact that the value chain concept creates opportunities for farmers, agribusiness and entrepreneurs along agricultural value chain to transform commodities into higher value products – a process that can play an important role in poverty reduction; creation of employment, provision of raw materials for industrial growth and generate income,” he said.
Abubakar also noted that over the years agriculture has proven to be one viable sector more than capable of contributing 75% to the GDP of the nation as against the current giving of 24% in a country so dependent on oil like Nigeria, adding that there are innumerable amount of value chain in the stream of agriculture, from cultivation to the final consumer.
He said the overall objective of the dialogue session was to discuss, identify and remove all major constrains to achieving competitiveness, and also ensure equitable returns for all stakeholders in agribusiness.
He said NACCIMA will continue in his advocacy role by ensuring that issues raised at the dialogue session, which would require government attention in order to achieve an increased productivity in the agric sector, would be treated with utmost priority, and aggressive follow up in realising the objectives of the programme.
According to the Director General/Chief Executive Officer of Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO), Gloria N. Elemo, the efforts of government on infrastructure development (including R&D) in the country is inadequate, noting that a meagre 23.7% of year 2014 budget of the Federal Government is appropriated for capital expenditure.
Implications of low investment in infrastructure
Elemo noted that weak infrastructure was mainly responsible for weak competitiveness and low productivity of enterprises as well as export of primary products without value-addition due to inadequate financing of infrastructure.
She submitted that the available infrastructural facilities are too obsolete to churn out meaningful research and development results that would be globally competitive, due to inadequate funding.
What FIIRO is doing
She said for the institute to assist in accelerating the industrialization of Nigeria economy, it embarked on production process development on agro raw material for value-addition to enhance export and improve competitiveness; import substitution of raw materials for industrial sector e.g. sorghum malt substitution for barley malt for brewing, beverages and confectioneries production; high quality cassava flour substitution for wheat in bread and pastries production.
She said the institute is also into design and fabrication of machineries and equipment to make agro-processors less dependent on imported machineries and equipment, while it also carries out the training of investors on upgraded and developed technologies as well as facilitating linkage of FIIRO beneficiaries to institutional support sources such as finance and incubation.
Achievements of FIIRO in value chain addition
She also explained that FIIRO has recorded some remarkable achievements such as processing of local raw materials into new products; improvements on indigenous agro-processing technologies, conducted research virtually on all the agro-based raw materials available in Nigeria, identification of Tropical hardwoods that could be used for pulp and paper making as well as an achievement in design, development and fabrication of machineries and equipment for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.
The CEO said FIIRO has also pioneered research work on the upgrading of indigenous technologies on the production of Cassava-based Foods in Nigeria.
She said the institute has created Instant Pounded Yam Flour (IPYF) Production leading to the proliferation of Instant Pounded Yam Flour (IPYF) production companies in Nigeria due to the pioneering activities of the Institute.
She noted that over 45 IPYF companies were established in Nigeria; over 1,500 jobs were created directly by the IPYF companies, while it is estimated that over 6,000 jobs were created indirectly, adding that foreign exchange is also earned through export of IPYF to every part of the world.
She said FIIRO has worked on Ginger, a rhizome, (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) a common agricultural produce that can be processed into powder & oleoresin which are common ingredients in various Foods, Beverages & Pharmaceutical Industries.
She also said that FIIRO developed a protein-rich formula, SOY-OGI, from corn and soybeans (for babies and adults) fortified with minerals, which she said has been adopted by many firms to produce various brands of infant formulae in the market.
She noted that the Institute initiated research into the use of Sorghum instead of barley in the production of European type Lager beer, noting that the European type lager beer, non-alcoholic malt drinks, malt extracts and other malt-based products, are now being produced from 100% sorghum malt, saying that 100% import substitution was achieved.
She said the institute also developed the technology for the processing of fresh tomatoes into different forms such as tomato puree, paste, ketch up & powder, noting that this will attract industrialists and therefore promote rapid commercialization of the technologies.
She said these products have high export potential if well developed.
She noted that Nigeria is blessed with abundant fruits for which she has comparative advantage, saying that FIIRO Developed various Products from these Fruit juices both Carbonated and Non-Carbonated; Fruit Jams, Fruit wines and Fruit concentrates.
Indigenous drinks production
She said the institute also developed a technology for Palmwine Bottling and Preservation; extraction of alcoholic beverages and Vinegar from palmwine, Zoborodo drink production and Kununzaki drink production
Oil seeds processing
She said vegetable oils are used for food and as industrial raw materials in the paint, cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries, advising that interested operators in the sub-sector should try and upgrade the technology for the extraction of Edible oils from groundnut, beniseed, melon and soybean, as well as develop technologies for the utilization of non-edible oils as industrial raw materials
She said the Institute developed a simple refining process to take off the pale yellow to dark colour of the crude shea fat, while a muscle relaxant “Citrobalm” and an insect repellant were developed from the refined product.
Pulp, paper & packaging production
She said the institute has worked on Kenaf and Agro wastes such as Palm bunches, corn sheat pineapple leaves, maize stem for Pulp, Paper and Packaging production, while it has developed Kenaf for bag production for agricultural produce packaging to replace imported jute bags.
Smoked fish and meat production
She said the Institute has developed a fish smoking process and equipment suitable for the production of hygienic, long shelf-life smoked fish and meat with retained nutritional value.
On design and fabrication of agro-processing machinery and equipment, she noted that the institute has fabricated Agro waste dryer; Flash Dryer, Tunnel Dryer, Rotary Dryer, Cabinet tray dryer, Hammer Mill, Grains De-stoner, Mellon Sheller, Tapioca Roaster, Hydraulic Press, Beniseed Air Screen Cleaner, Soap Reactor, Oil Expeller, Extruder, Pasteurizer, Vibro Sifter, and Granulator.
Other equipments fabricated by the institute, she noted include Chipping machine; Cassava Pelletizer, Cassava Peeler, Gari Fryer, Corking Machine, and Sealing Machine among others.
Entrepreneurship development programme
She said the institute carries out pre-retirement training for would-be retirees and organizes youth and women empowerment programmes, while it also runs certificate/diploma courses on entrepreneurship.
Apart from these, she said the institute also assists in conducting Feasibility, Pre-feasibility & Market Studies, Consumer Acceptance Studies & Appraisal of Feasibility Reports, while it provides Back-up assistance to its Certified Trainees to Banks as well as assisting in sourcing for Machinery & Equipment and helps in the Fabrication and Installation of equipment for trainees.
The chief executive officer of the institute said some of the challenges faced by the institute include inadequate financing of research and development activities in the country; inadequate funding of commercialization of research results, hence the low drive and lack of funds to finance awareness creation and publicity/promotion of research and development results to end users.
She said urgent private sector initiative and intervention is required to complement Government efforts, noting that FIIRO has within the limits of its slim budget been able to add value to agricultural raw materials to enhance export.
She said over 250 commercialisable technologies have been developed, while 50 have been commercialised and transferred directly to only about 5,000 investors; 25 of these are on regular technology transfer trainings, while 200 of these are currently on the shelf awaiting commercialisation.
Source : Independent