Solving Practical Problems, My Research Motivation, Says FUNAAB Professor

A Professor of Food Engineering in the Department of Agricultural and Bioresources Engineering, College of Engineering (COLENG), Professor Babatunde Adewumi, has disclosed that his interest in solving practical problems in the society had been the driving force behind his research as an academic. According to the Don, “The passion to help, whenever there is a challenge, drives my breakthrough. I look at what are the practical challenges and what are the practical solutions that are economical”.

Professor Adewumi said he had developed over 30 machines that are working. He gave some examples to include the processing machines for locust beans (popularly called “Iru” in Yoruba language). These includes the steamer unit for the locust bean seed that helps in reducing the boiling time of the seeds, from about 24 to 36 hours, to only about one to two hours. Aside the drastic reduction of the processing time and drudgery, the steaming process retains the original golden yellow color of the cotyledons of the bean and upgrades the value of the crop beyond it use as traditional food condiments to industrial crop, especially in pharmaceutical and  food industries. He added that apart from the steaming machine, he had developed different types of dehulling machines and hydro cyclone separator for locust bean processing, which had produced desired solution by reducing time, energy or power requirements and drudgery to the barest minimum. Those machines have also improved production efficiency, quantity, quality and rate. For the poultry farmers the Don has developed various types of incubators including, charcoal-fuel, kerosene-fuel, electrical, electrical cum kerosene fuel; solar incubators for hatching eggs; three types of egg candlers for assessing egg fertility with embryo development; manually-operated milking machine for small ruminants; and a beak trimming machine to prevent cannibalism. Other machines developed by the Don include manually operated and motorised plantain chiping/ slicing machines, pneumatic separator, cashew seed decorticator, manual and motorised Cashew Nut Shell Liquid (CNSL) extractors, manually operated impact type cocoa pod breaking machine, manually operated and motorised charcoal heated ‘Gari’ frying machines, motorised mango juice extractor, screw extractor for groundnut oil, motorised rice husking machine, medium scale motorised sugarcane juice extractor, medium scale thresher-cleaner for legumes and cross flow classifier test rig for legumes. He also developed theoretical  aerodynamic model utilise as a guide for the design of legume classifier unit.

Professor Adewumi, a seasoned and widely-travelled researcher, had described research as the life-line of a nation that hopes to survive. Drawing an example from Nigeria, he said that the government and various industries do not seem to adequately support researches and emphasized that “this is why most researches in the country end up on the shelves”. He advised that, just as the way it is being done in the developed nations - where institutions and researchers patent their researches - Nigerian institutions/ researchers should also key into the same method, in order to get their investment back and in doing this, any individual or company that needs a research effort would be made to pay. Professor Adewumi said that the problem facing most developing nations like Nigeria is that the people conceive agriculture as hobby and not as business. He suggested that the country and its farmers should rather see agriculture from a global dimension of competitiveness and realise that agricultural products are not only food products but also raw materials for industries.

He described Nigeria as a blessed nation but wasting away simply because our leaders do not want people to get liberated. To buttress his point, Professor Adewumi described the country as slave in every area of life simply because our leaders do not encourage research by making the country ‘a buying economy’ and not a ‘producing economy’. According to him, by encouraging research, the country would be self-reliant, be able to solve its immediate problems, be able to save money and build its reserve. He stressed that if the government should spend huge resources on research and allow the outcome to be utilized, many problems such as joblessness and corruption would be taken care of. The Don then charged researchers to be patient and prevent ‘Quick research outcome syndrome’ which only tends to publishing inferior quality papers, without practical results or applications. Also, the Nigerian industrialists have not help matters. They have not been adequately sponsoring research because they want immediate and huge gains with minimum investments. This make the nation to keep buying and not producing. Drawing an example from the United States of America, if she spend $1 billion on research today, she will gain $10 billion, in the nearest but not necessarily immediate future.
 
The Professor of Food Engineering has described inadequate funding as one of the major challenges facing research in the country. He also said that inferiority complex is another national problem. Generally in Nigeria we do not believe in ourselves (low self ego). We believe in and rely more on foreign made products rather than improving the quality of our own products. The government will not patronize our products and professional but foreign products and expatriates, even when there are better local alternatives. In order to help solve some of the identified problems, he urged the government to look inwards and provide the enabling environment for universities to operate. The Nigerian Government and and industries should support research and patronize research breakthroughs so they do not end up in the shelves but get to the market. There is also  the need to maintain proper networking among researchers and relevant stakeholders.
He called other researchers, most especially the upcoming ones, not to make money their priority, if they want to make a head-way in research, while charging them to seek knowledge that would promote the economy, exercise patience in carrying out research and be honest in data management. He called on Nigerian leaders to work towards a knowledge-based economy, to survive.