The Federal University of Technology Akure in collaboration with International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Centre for Development Research (ZEF) Germany , Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) Accra , Ghana and Biomass Web, a Project sponsored by FARA, has hosted a Fabricators forum and one day dissemination workshop on Pneumatic flash dryer for High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) an essential ingredient in the production of bread and other confectionaries.
The convener of the workshop and team leader, Biomass Web project, FUTA said the forum is collaboration between experts in academics and fabricators in the development of functional and efficient pneumatic flash dryers.
He explained that the pneumatic dryer which uses air and heat to effectively dry cassava in large quantities is an innovative cassava processing technology as traditional cassava processing is time consuming and provides inadequate yields.
He said with the new technology the production of high quality cassava flour for bread and other confectionaries will become easier and it will lead to a gradual reduction in the amount of money spent on imported flour annually by Nigeria.
Professor Olukunle disclosed that the Federal Government’s policy on the 10 % inclusion of HQCF into wheat flour for baking and confectionery, created a huge demand for HQCF by flour millers.
He said since the indigenous fabrication industry has shown immense innovation and commitment through the commercial production of flash dryers, there is a need for collaboration between the experts in academics and local fabricators in order to develop an efficient drying system for HQCF production.
Olukunle added that the diversification of cassava products, processing and utilization are presently constrained in Nigeria for the reason of inadequate processing machinery and equipment hence the need to improve flash dryer models in Nigeria, develop engineering design for an efficient pneumatic flash drying system and transfer of that knowledge to fabricators through training in the development of detailed engineering design and fabrication of an improved flash dryer.
He enjoined participants to contribute towards identifying new ways to improve the efficiency of the dryers.
The Vice Chancellor Professor Joseph Fuwape said the workshop has come at a time when research institutes in developing countries including Higher Institutions (HIEs) are challenged to play a more active role in the technological development of their countries.
Professor Fuwape said as a specialized university with the mandate of advancing the cause of technology, the department of Agricultural Engineering, has developed three cassava peelers namely knife edged automator peeler type 1 and 2, and the abrasive tooled automated peeler in order to provide lasting solutions to cassava peeling problems which had hitherto remained a global challenge for cassava production especially large scale production.
He reiterated that collaboration is important between the various stakeholders in equipment fabrication in carrying out need driven research and development in the area of food security in Nigeria.
Speaking at the workshop, the FARA Program coordinator Dr Raymond Jatta represented by Dr Nana Kwapong said Biomass web stands for improving food security in Africa.
He said the workshop will provide and an avenue to share findings on the study of analyzing the performance and efficiency of pneumatic flash dryer models and to identify new ways to improve the drying performance of the dryers.
Participants were drawn from research institutes and higher institutions around the country and stake holders in the manufacturing industry.