IMSU launches Ukwa de-husking machine to enhance food production
Imo State University (IMSU), Owerri, has launched an Ukwa (Treculia africana) de-husking Machine and Food Research Centre to enhance the availability and affordability of Ukwa as food for public consumption.
This machine is the result of research work sponsored by Chima Ibeneche Education Foundation – a philanthropic organisation founded by Dr. Chima Ibeneche.
Ibeneche said the vision is to increase the use of Ukwa in food baskets, to improve environmental and climate sustainability, as well as food security.
Dean, Faculty of Engineering, Augustine Iwuoha and Director, Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies, Prof. Ferdinand Mbagwu, said the innovation would help mitigate the challenges in Ukwa production and increase its availability in the food value chain.
They also solicited support to enable mass production of the de-husking machine and facilitate further research on how to make the state, southeast and Nigeria in general, a rallying point in Ukwa production.
Ibeneche said that aside from removal of production and marketing hurdles in the Ukwavalue chain, the research would also help to increase local production of food, develop better methods of developing and preserving Ukwaproducts.
He said: “One core contribution of Ukwaresearch is improving production and processing efficiency by eliminating manual processes. Achieving this will enable upscaling of Ukwa production; make the foodstuff more affordable and price competitive against imported alternatives.
“It will also make the food supply chain more resilient to international or external crises, increase the use of Ukwa for food, which will result in food security and environmental sustainability, while also enabling students acquire practical knowledge in food production and preservation,” Ibeneche said.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Uchefula Chukwumaeze commended the research team and the sponsor for the progress made.
He said the university would support the research so it can deliver on its mission.
Highlights of the event included the demonstrations of the de-husking machine, presentation and tasting of Ukwa food products.