The Deputy Director, Natural Resources Institute (NRI), United Kingdom, Prof. Ben Bennet has stated that Nigerian Fabricators have the potentials of becoming a force to reckon with in the fabrication of simple effective equipments that can meet the needs of Africans, if given the opportunity and adequate support.
Prof. Bennet who made this disclosure at a Two-day Training Workshop, organised for Fabricators by the Cassava Adding Value for Africa (C:AVA) Phase II, Nigeria and NRI, said that flash dryers that are exported from Nigeria are working perfectly well in other countries in Africa, pointing out that this is something that the Country should be proud of and capitalize on.
According to him, “There are many examples of inter-regional technology exchange at this kind of level and I think you should be extremely proud of that because it’s a great achievement and the people in Nigeria don’t really realise that this sector is driving forward”.
He added, “I believe you really have an opportunity as a group of equipment makers to make simple effective equipment that is easily maintained, well designed and well-engineered, that fits the pocket and fits the condition that you find when you go out to other countries in this region”.
Prof. Bennet who further disclosed that people in Gabon, Congo and Chad grow cassava which they want to process, called on Fabricators to take advantage of the global opportunity.
He said that “the opportunity is not just here in Nigeria. This is a global opportunity that you have but to achieve this you have to have a certain amount of excellence, a certain amount of reliability and you have to build a reputation”.
Charging the Fabricators to work on producing equipment that are of high standard, Prof. Bennet said “if you are excellent, if you have got a good reputations and a good product I think the world will be at your doorstep”.
Earlier in his Opening Address, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Kolawole Salako called for an enabling environment for researchers and Fabricators in Nigeria to flourish.
According to him, though most advanced countries are more technologically ahead of Nigeria, nevertheless Fabricators in the Country can contribute to the technological development of the nation if only they look inward to identify and address the needs of the people.
Buttressing his point, the Vice-Chancellor disclosed that, “the prototype idea for pounding yam emanated from a researcher in the University of Ife but today you have the yam pounding machine coming from Japan and China. Nobody gives credit to that man again”.
Prof. Salako said what that means is that, “if the enabling environment is there we can do it. They don’t eat pounded yam in Japan but Chinese may be eating it now because they are acclamatising to every environment, but the point remains that originally the concept for producing a machine for pounding yam came from University of Ife. Interestingly the big time manufactures are delving into it now”.
He said that there were some yam pounding machines made by Nigerians but the finishing was very poor, pointing out that “this is where we need to get it right, so I believe that with the collaboration we have here, what we should do on our part is to ensure sustainability and quality. We should not always expect that people will come from another country and help us. Once the ideas are handed over, we should adapt them to suit our purpose”.
In his remarks, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Development) and Country Manager CAVA II, Prof. Lateef Sanni disclosed that the Workshop is aimed at enhancing the efficiency of the flash drying system in Nigeria for the cassava industry.
According to him, the expectation at the end of the Workshop is to identify the gaps with the fabricated machine and come up with newly improved system that will be used for agricultural commodities in the country.