UK institute commends Nigeria’s role in African root, tuber value chains
Celebrating its 125 years of research and impacts, the Natural Resources Institute (NRI), University of Greenwich, has acknowledged the positive impacts of a homegrown technological device developed in Nigeria on value chain development of the root and tuber crops in Africa.
The institute admits that smallholder farmers have benefited and would continue to improve their means of livelihood with the use of value-adding devices in the post-harvest management of their roots and tubers. The device, called flash dryer, dries agricultural products such as yam, cassava, potato and other granulated food commodities for elongated shelf life, higher profitability and food security.
The project that propped up the improvement of the design by Nobex Technologies was an initiative of Cassava: Adding Value for Africa (CAVA), facilitated by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and executed through multiple partnership.
One of the ways CAVA2 supports smallholders is by offering farmers more ‘avenues for sales’ for their cassava roots. To ensure a smooth flow of roots from farm to product, CAVA2 works with SMEs to expand and develop processing capacity; a key issue is the availability of quality equipment and after sales service.
The Nigerian who developed the device in working with the institute, Mr Idowu Adeoya, fabricates equipment for drying and roasting root and tuber crops.The improvement to the flash dryer, which dries agricultural products almost instantaneously, was started in 2006 when the fabricator was first contacted by specialists from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), led by the Country Manager of CAVA Nigeria, Professor Lateef Sanni, and a food processing specialist from NRI, Dr Andrew Graffham, from the Natural Resources Institute (NRI), University of Greenwich, the United Kingdom.
As part of a FUNAAB-NRI collaboration, they had encountered a Nobex flash dryer at a factory in Akure, 300km from Lagos. The team was interested in collecting some data about the dryer, in order to look into its efficiency. Mr Adeoya welcomed Dr Graffham’s interest and some months later, he was visited by NRI agricultural engineering specialist, Dr Andrew Marchant.
Improvements included reduced fuel usage from 374 to 65 litres per tonne of dried product; increased output from approximately 100kg an hour to around 330kg an hour of dried product; and increased efficiency, from 11 to 55 percent.Building on CAVA2’s experience and progress with the fabricator in Nigeria, a complementary initiative is taking shape in Ghana, with the development of a new, fuel-efficient flash dryer on a smaller scale.
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