The Natural Resources Institute (NRI) of the University of Greenwich, United Kingdom has commended the pioneering effort of Nobex Tech, an indigenous Nigerian Company in setting the standard for quality and after sales services of cassava drying equipment in Africa.
The Institute said it first came in contact with Nobex Tech in 2006 while exploring home-grown solutions to address post-harvest losses in cassava, under the Cassava Adding Value Africa (CAVA) and CAVA2 projects that lasted till 2019, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The institute in a recent statement said, “Striving to expand and develop processing capacity for SMEs, a key issue of availability of quality equipment and after sales service was identified and this led NRI to approach ‘Nobex Technical Company Limited’ a Nigerian manufacturer that has specialised in equipment for drying and roasting cassava.
“One of the machines that Nobex fabricates is a ‘flash dryer’, so called because it dries agricultural products almost instantaneously. Once harvested, the crop needs to be processed quickly, for fresh cassava roots begin to deteriorate 72 hours after harvest.”
Specialists from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) led by the Country manager of CAVA Nigeria, Prof Lateef Sanni, and a food processing specialist from NRI, Dr Andrew Graffham, as part of a FUNAAB-NRI collaboration, had encountered a Nobex flash dryer at a factory in Akure, Ondo State.
This led to collaboration between Mr Idowu Adeoya, MD of Nobex Tech, his team of engineers and NRI agricultural engineering specialist, Dr Andrew Marchant. Their combined effort produced an improved machine that significantly lowered production costs.
Fuel usage decreased from 374 to 65 litres per tonne of dried product; output increased from approximately 100kg an hour to around 330kg an hour of dried product, while efficiency climbed from 11 to 55 per cent. Since then, machines based on this design have been exported to eight countries in Africa, with multiple sales in Nigeria.
“Building on CAVA2’s experience and progress with Nobex in Nigeria, a complementary initiative is taking shape in Ghana, with the development of a new, fuel-efficient flash dryer on a smaller scale,” NRI announced.
Apart from processing, other challenges in the cassava value-chain include increasing yield, managing pests and diseases, and transporting the bulky roots by road.