By Abiose Adelaja Adams
The Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi, FIIRO, has commissioned a Catalytic Model Factory for Cassava Processing at the Yewa South/Ipokia local government areas of Abeokuta, Ogun State.
The Plant, which was launched by the minister of Science and Technology, Abdu Bulama, at the weekend, aims to bring rapid industrialization to cassava-growing communities in Ogun State with a population of about 300,000 people.
Facilitated by Abiodun Isiaq, the chairman House of Representatives committee on Science and Technology, representing Yewa South and Ipokia Federal Constituency of Ogun State, the commissioned plant has the capacity to process cassava into high quality cassava flour, odourless fufu powder, industrial starch and high quality garri at the rate of 4 tonnes per day.
Isiaq’s action is based on his believe that science and technology is the way forward especially in the face of dwindling oil prices.
“I believe so much that the utilization of Science and Technology as an instrument for rapid industrialization through indigenous technologies for job creation,” Isiaq said.
Lauding the project, Bulama said, “This project is an offshoot of the Cluster project of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology that seeks to promote rapid industrialization using indigenous technologies and raw materials of relative advantage in some specific locations in Nigeria.”
Highlighting the import of this project, the deputy director Techno Entrepreneurship Department of the Institute, Dele Oyeku, who represented the director general, Gloria Elemo, said that the plant which was fabricated by FIIRO in 2013, is set to create massive industrialization and revolutionize the entire local processes of cassava production in this highly agrarian council areas.
“It will make a difference in terms of quality of products that come out efficiency of output. If they were able to produce garri locally, they may not be able to produce more than 50kg in one day, but we are talking of a plant that can produce up to 10 bags of garri in a day.”
He added that “the garri produced by the plant has a moisture content of 10 percent which can make it last for a minimum of six months so that even if one wants to export, the quality is guaranteed.”
He also said the project is bound to create mass employments for youth.
“If youths know that they can bring their own cassava there to be processed into either garri, odourless fufu, starch, or flour, for a fee, more and more of them will come , and by so doing more youths have means of selling and can then begin to raise funds on their own.”
Already there is high awareness in the community, as the commissioning of the plant drew people from all the wards in the council area, including local chiefs, Obas, community leaders and youth groups.
According to him, though it is federal project, processing the cassava for the youths cannot be free because the plant is solely dependent of a 75KVA generator which was also installed along with the plant.
“We want to operate the plant on a public private partnership basis, where we will bring a tested entrepreneur from the SMEs (Small and Medium Scale Enterprises), who has passed through one of FIIRO’s training, one who is competent in terms of business acumen and also management knowledge.”
Reports show that Nigeria produces over 10 million metric tonnes of cassava per annum, but it is largely consumed so its potential to create remarkable industrial opportunities such as cassava flour and industrial starch is yet to be explored.
Bulama expresses optimism that the plant will kick-start a process of industrialization using technology.