‘Egg powder machine is simple to make if we have support’
In this interview with FEMI IBIROGBA, Managing Director of Nobex Tech Company Ltd, Mr Adeoya Idowu, says the quality of locally fabricated agric equipment is better than most of the imported ones and Nigerian fabricators can make any machine if supported.
What is the idea of developing cheaper African technologies to solve agricultural problems?
Most of the projects that we have been doing for International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) depend on the area of interest of donors.
Most of the funds given to institutes like IITA are meant for equipment sourced locally because the fund was to develop Africa.
So, they are mostly not for importing machines in China, or European countries.
It is to develop Africa and therefore, it should be spent to get equipment from African countries, installed and to be used by Africans.
We have a project about reduction of post-harvest wastes, and with this, we try to increase the shelf life of farm products.
It is to show other regions in Africa the drying technology. We did it in Ghana, Benin Republic, Sierra-Leone and Nigeria.
In Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), through a World Bank project, we have developed machines in Cot ‘devoir, one for cassava and the other for plantain flour.
We make use of the plantain flour for cake, while the cassava flour is used for bread.
We have another one called Cassava: Adding Value for Africa (C:AVA), headed by Professor Kolawole Adebayo.
The project is all about making complete sets of flash dryer to process cassava to flour.
It is also a multi-purpose system to produce plantain flour and potato flour.
We just came back from Tanzania where we went to install a complete set for C:AVA. The factory is running as we speak to you now.
It reduces post-harvest waste, and adds value to agro products.
What and what can help farmers to preserve their harvests?
The problem of farmers is how to increase the shelf life of their products, which is through drying.
So, basically, the problem is how to utilise drying systems.
We engage in all those areas of drying and milling to dry and preserve their products.
Poultry farmers do complain of egg glut.
So what are you doing to look into the processing of eggs into powder?
Egg is just one product out of the numerous products we have.
We have different grains like rice, beans, etc and crops like tubers of yam, roots of cassava, etc.
So we have a lot to deal with in the agro sector.
We have not really worked on egg powder machines, but it is possible because we have screw dryer that can handle eggs.
This is a prominent problem they have in poultry industry.
They are losing eggs and money as a result of inability to sell.
They actually want to process, but the equipment appears too expensive.
Don’t you see an opportunity in production of small-scale egg powder machines?
Yes, there is a dryer that you can use to dry eggs, but it needs an atomizer, which is very expensive and it is made of stainless steel.
Even the cassava flash dryer we are doing is quite expensive. The atomizer makes it a little bit expensive.
Like how much will it cost to manufacture a complete egg drier locally?
It is between N20 and N30 million. Yes, it is doable because we have people doing it in Europe, and they do a lot of spray drying.
If the government will fund our operations to make research, we can go ahead to do it.
But the basic thing needed in drying is generation of heat.
Spraying the egg through an atomizer and the heat will dry it.
It is a very simple technology, but we need research funding, and who will buy it if we produce one using our resources?
Machines for cassava and others are selling because the industry is large.
The Poultry Association of Nigeria said most companies import egg powder worth over N2 billion annually. Don’t you think that is attractive?
When we compare eggs and cassava, there are more people processing cassava, and perhaps it is where we find ourselves.
And if there is encouragement from the government, institutions, groups of people and individuals, we can go into it.
The poultry industry is also spending heavily on importation of incubators. Have you done any?
Incubator is very simple but the market is not encouraging.
Chinese and Indian equipment are cheaper because they have tools for mass production. Are you looking into mass production plants?
I don’t believe that China and India’s equipment are cheaper, they are expensive.
But because they do mass production, the quality of materials we use here in Nigeria is far better than the ones coming from China, and what we do here in Nigeria is hand-made, and you can’t compare mass product abroad to what we do here. And the materials we use are very good.