Local fabricator constructs rice milling machine of 50mt capacity
The frantic search for localised rice milling machine to satisfy local demand, has prompted Engineer Iliyasu Nazifi, a Kano-based Process Engineer/Chemical Engineer, to manufacture a machine, with the capacity of processing 50 metric tonnes of rice per day.
Nazifi, a graduate of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, who got his second Degree from the United Kingdom, has been in the agricultural line of business for over 15 years, after his brief stint with the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).
The founder of Prime Waves Limited, producers of GreenPro Rice, located in Dakata area of Nassarawa local government, Kano, told The Guardian that what prompted his going into the fabrication business, was to develop alternatives to imported equipment.
It has for long been a common knowledge that the major problem of the country’s local rice is largely associated with parboiling and drying. More than 80 per cent of the rice consumed in Nigeria is parboiled, as observed by Nazifi. “And the challenge here is, you have to provide the way of parboiling. Now, most of the mills we have are having the small scale mills, they don’t have the facilities to do this in a very profitable and professional way, that is why whenever our local rice is processed, people complain of stones,” he said.
Continuing, he said: “A lot of stones in there and a lot of impurities, because when they parboil one or two bags they come to the roadside and begin to spread it. One, there wont be much quality there, secondly the capacity will be so limited. And even in the rainy season, you’ll begin to have challenges. When the rain comes, there is no way you can sun-dry anything.”
The need to come up with the required technology that suits local content and environment, to also boost the capacity of what is currently obtained, was one of the fundamental reasons why Nazifi intervened. This line of thinking alone has the capacity to improve the way things are being handled, with the sole aim of increasing the size that could make the process more efficient, more hygienic and more presentable.
Nazifi flashed back and disclosed that, “We started with five tonnes and we upgraded to 10 tonnes. And now, we are having 50 metric tonnes per day. What it can do is to parboil and dry completely 50 metric tonnes in a period of 24 hours. And you can imagine what we can achieve if we translate it to a month. We are talking of almost 1,500 metric tonnes per month. That will require you to plant almost 200 hectares of land.”
When The Guardian requested to know whether there was any government intervention, he said there was no government intervention so far. What really gingered him was when he realised there was a gap as an entrepreneur, which he felt he was equal to the challenge and could stand up to it.
Revealing that he has been doing it at the commercial level, he said: “We supply to some other mills here in Kano with our products. And they are doing very well and competitively in our market. There has not been government intervention so far.
“This kind of effort can help the agricultural sector in the country. It will, as you can see it, as small as the capacity is, it can process 1500 metric tonnes per month. It’s actually a very huge quantity. In Nigeria, what we have is averagely five to six metric tonnes per hectare. And that means for you to be able to produce this mill with the quantity of paddy it requires to process, you need to have over 300 hectares of land.”
“Now most of the smallholder farmers we have around are holding like between five to 10 hectares maximum. As you can imagine the number of farmers you engage by this small mill, if it will go all way round. Now if you have more of such mills, it will impact significantly in the way farmers will benefit from the entire project.”
Investigation shows that, there has been tremendous patronage of his product, especially from local rice dealers and the sellers, mostly on commercial scale. He said, “They used to come to order for our rice here. And the market has been very good.”
On how government should intervene in the effort, Nazifi pleaded that: “Government should intervene by trying to encourage us, like we have a lot of peasant people here. People that are not well trained in terms of skills, so we decided to engage them here. Some of them are street side welders, without any proper kind of formal education. But we try to engage them to train them to improve their own skills.”
He challenged government to start looking inwards to see how to develop the local technology, using available local materials to come up with something that would help the industry, reminding that: “Rice is paramount in what this administration is talking about. And I believe with little support and intervention we will be able to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production.”
When asked about reaching out to other critical stakeholders, he disclosed that he established similar platform in Kebbi and Kaduna States, while having an ongoing project in Jigawa State. He added that there are a lot of such projects in Kano. Investigation reveals that, some states have started picking interest in the new project, recently.