Nov 28, 2008

IITA scientists develop new cassava flash dryer machine

 Afrique en ligne - Angers,France
News - Africa news  Nov. 27, 2008

Lagos, Nigeria - Scientists working at the Nigeria-based International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) have developed a new cassava flash dryer machine that will help cassava farmers and processors earn bigger profits and get better-quality product, according to a statement from the organisation.The statement, obtained by PANA he
re Wednesday, said that the machine was developed in collaboration with some other partners

''The improved flash dryer is capable of processing 8 tons of raw cassava tubers into 2 tons of high-quality flour per day, compared to the less-than one ton daily production of existing models.

''Aside from higher production capacity, the new flash dryer also consumes less fuel, using only 12 liters of diesel per hour to produce 250 kg of flour. Comparatively, current models burn about 20 liters of fuel per hour to produce only 80 kg of flour,'' the statement said.

According to the research institute, the new machine is said to be cost-effective and efficient, capable of producing 300% more flour while using 40% less fuel.

Most models being used by cassava millers in Nigeria are imported, usually from Brazil, and cost about US$68,500 per unit.

The new dryer is locally manufactured and costs about US$22,800 each, or only about a third of the price of the imported ones.

The Project Manager of IITA's Cassava Enterprise Development Project (CEDP), Gbassay Tarawali, believed also that the machine equally addresses the perennial problem of short-period perishability of cassava after harvest.

"The improved flash dryer not only doubles the capacity of present ones in the market, but it also produces much finer quality of flour," he added.

National partners in the development of the machine include the Raw Materials Research and Development Council, Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi; the Roots and Tuber Expansion Programme of the International Fund for Agricultural Development and Godilogo Farms in Obudu, southern Cross Rivers State.

Under the Presidential Initiative on Cassava, Nigeria mandated millers to integrate 10% of cassava flour to wheat flour in making bread, a move aimed at increasing the utilization of the tuber crop.

However, the supply of cassava flour has not been able to keep up with demand.

IITA and partners said say the situation would be improved with the introduction of the improved flash dryer, benefiting the farmers downstream with better market opportunities and prices for their crops.

"The development and introduction of this improved flash dryer represents a win-win situation for the millions of cassava farmers and processors not only in Nigeria but also in other cassava-producing countries of West Africa," said Prof. Ayo Kuye of the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Port Harcourt in Southern Nigeria.

Prof. Kuye led a team of engineers in developing the new dryer, in consultation with IITA.

"This new flash dryer will not only save the country millions of dollars in import payments but will also generate millions more in production increases and cost savings, once it is widely distributed and used. This dryer is a success story for the cassava industry in general," he added.

Dr. Lateef Sanni, a Post Harvest Specialist with IITA, remarked that apart from foreign exchange savings, the technology would build the capacity of Nigerians and create jobs.

"With this breakthrough, the future of cassava industry is further brightened as the technology will be passed to local flash dryer manufacturers in the country," Sanni added.
Lagos - 26/11/2008

Nigeria: Agric Financing Key to Economic Growth - Agwu - Washington,USA

Daily Independent (Lagos)

25 November 2008
Posted to the web 26 November 2008

Our agricultural banking started at the beginning of this year. The experience has been most beneficial. One thing we have found out is that microfinance banking goes to the root of the economy. You should be able to recall that at the earlier part of this year there was a timid food crisis in the country to the extent that the presidency has to order for the importation of large quantity of food stuff like rice. This is not because we do not have enough farmers in the country.
It is not because we do not have food crops or arable farmland in the country but simply because our farmers have been neglected.

The big banks are trying their very best but when it comes to assisting the rural farmers or the rural dwellers, it is the microfinance banks that would still go to the root of the problem. This is simply because we operate at the micro level. Most of our farming and agricultural activities in this country is lacking. That is why we are trying to visit some of these villages and the rural communities to solve their immediate problems. In that way we are not just increasing employment or income for them but also increasing the quantum of food supply in the country and agricultural production.

If you want to lend out money and to ensure that the money comes back to you safely, it should do so through microfinance banking. Our people, I mean the rural farmers or the rural dwellers do borrow money and they actually pay back. What they only want is access to these funds. And what do they need the funds for- to buy inputs for their agricultural activities. We have not experienced any bad loans so far while lending in our agricultural businesses.

How is your bank coping with the long gestation period of farming?

Generally agriculture is a long gestation period business and you cannot run away from it, but for us in IMFB, we have defined our target. The commercial banks go after the big time farmers and we go to the rural farmers. In that way, we do not fall into the trap of big borrowers like the experience of commercial banks. For instance here in Lagos, we go to Ikorodu, Epe, Badagry. We meet the rural people, those that are actually doing farming and we empower them and these people pay back. We know that the gestation period is long. For instance, if you are lending for a fish farmer your tenure cannot be anything less than six months. If you are lending to somebody planting cassava, the tenure cannot be anything less than 10 months and these are gestation period that you must cope with.

If you want to actually do agricultural micro financing and empower the farmers, you must be aware of this gestation period and must be willing and ready to give them moratorium and that is what we do here at IMFB, it is not a problem to us because we are all aware of these issues.

How can one access IMFB agricultural loans?

Very simple, you open an account, just a savings account of only N500. After opening that account, you belong to a group because we believe in dealing with groups of farmers. You can now come forward with the group which could be between five and 10 persons in a particular group. You can approach us with your request and our collateral arrangement is very simple. It is flexible collateral and within the next 48 hours your loan is available to you.

What is the volume of loan advances portfolio in IMFB?

In terms of loan advances portfolio in agric financing, as at the moment, we have in excess of N400 million and we are still growing. In terms of customer base, I mean those who we have actually benefited from our facilities are more than 3000. We have them in Epe, Emotan, Aggowa, Ikosi. We also have them in Ikorodu, Ijegun, Odogiyun, Ijede and all other surrounding villages there. We also have them Badagry, Ojo, Agege, Igondo and so many others. These are the areas where we have farmers that are currently benefiting from IMFB.

What do think that customers should be expecting in the nearest future?

IMFB agricultural banking programme is a total package. We do not just give farmers money. In addition to empowering them financially, we give them capacity training. What we mean by that is that we exposed them to the latest farming techniques.

Recently there was an agricultural show held in Nasarawa State. At that show, we were in touch with representative of the National Roots Crops Research Institute and they showed us latest research findings on cassava. Instead of planting your cassava and wait for 12 months to harvest, you can actually plant and harvest within the next six months. The problem is that most farmers are not aware of improved type of cassava. Under our capacity building program, we tried as much as possible to avail farmers with the latest technology and improvement in the farming business. This is one thing we do for them in our area of capacity building program. Another thing we equally do for them is granting them access to inputs and market so that they do not end up producing crops that would waste at the end of the day because they could not have a place to dispose these particular produce. When they can not sell, it makes it boring so we provide a ready made market for them

Cassava - Google News