The Deputy Vice Chancellor (Development), Professor Lateef Sanni has affirmed the University’s commitment to making impact as a University of Agriculture in Ogun State and beyond the shores of the country.
Professor Sanni stated that the University intends to realise this feat through its recently commissioned root and tuber processing factory and the up scaling of other ventures within the University.
According to him, the initiative for the processing factory stemmed from an earlier project under, the Department for International Development (DFID) Cassava/Fufu project, led by the immediate past Vice-Chancellor, Professor Olusola Oyewole alongside other researchers in the University, which brought about the introduction of fufu flour.
The Deputy Vice Chancellor, however, noted that not much was realised after the initial breakthrough until the University was able to use combined funds from the European Union (EU), European based market project, called EU Gratitude Project, EU Cassava Goods Market, Cassava: Adding Value for Africa, World Bank upscale Flash Dryer Project in West Africa and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). These were projects mostly facilitated by Natural Resources Institute of the Greenwich University, United Kingdom, in collaboration with Professor Andrew Wesby, Professor Tommy Kits and Professor Ben Bennett, as well as all the Projects Directors, Coordinators and Managers of the various projects.
He said that “now the facility has the capacity of producing nothing less than six tons of dry fufu powder in a day and that’s huge when you look at the amount of cassava that will be used in a year from that kind of enterprise. Also, that same facility can produce High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF)”.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor disclosed that the University had since commenced the inclusion of ten percent HQCF in the bread produced in the University, noting that the University community and others who patronise the bread will be healthier for it because it will help curb the danger of Celia disease that may arise from eating 100 % gluten wheat food.
According to him, the production of HQCF by the University has also helped in addressing the need for inclusion of a significant percentage of local substitute which is nutritionally good as an addition to wheat.
The University don further disclosed that the processing facility can produce multiple products beyond fufu and HQCF for bread to include garri, yam flour, plantain flour which is very useful for diabetic patients and the elderly, starch and tapioca with the same facility.
Speaking on the possible output of garri that can be produced with the facility, Professor Sanni said, “we have the capacity now to produce nothing less than 1 to 1.5 tons of garri in a day. That’s a good amount of volume, income, employment opportunity for the young ones, especially students and the retirees who now have the opportunity to come in as incubatees because the same facility can serve as an incubator to train future investors in cassava processing facilities and that’s actually the essence why the IFAD sponsored us because we are going to be hosting private sector investors”.
The Deputy Vice Chancellor disclosed that “the University Governing Council is planning a situation where it replicates what it has done for the UNAAB Micro Finance bank to the Industrial Processing Unit. That is where shares will be sold like a Limited Liability company and people, members of staff can buy ome shares and it’s going to be semi-privatised”.
The Deputy Vice Chancellor noted that the implication of the semi-private partnership is that the private sector would be managing the facilities in the nearest future with the University having its normal representative on Board and sitting as Chair of the Board.
Professor Sanni added that “we want to expand the bakery level, the fish level and want to capitalise on our manufacturing base. They will serve as platforms for our academic programmes and at the same time
serve as income earning ventures to the university, to sustain some of the expenses.”