On 25 August, the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) Cassava compact team of IITA hosted the Ogun State farmers’ group from the Abeokuta Chamber of Commerce Industry, Mines, and Agriculture (ABEOCCIMA) at the Institute’s headquarters. The group came on a tour of IITA’s facilities and the mobile cassava processing plant. The visit also aimed to explore possible partnerships with IITA in accessing agricultural technologies for improved agribusiness.
The mobile cassava processing plant was fabricated by IITA in collaboration with the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO) to improve agribusinesses by assisting processors in the rural areas to conveniently gain access to improved processing methods and equipment at a reduced cost. The issue of postharvest losses experienced by rural farmers is a serious challenge. One of the problems is transporting cassava roots from the farm to the factory “as 80% of the cassava root is purely water,” said Peter Kolawole, Postharvest Specialist at IITA.
The mobile processing plant will enable farmers to process their cassava roots right inside the field. This will save the cost of transporting the roots to the factory, allow farmers to make use of all the by-products, and increase production of the end-products, which will result in increased profit for farmers and processors.
Business for the Ogun State farmers’ group has been challenging because of the high cost of transporting cassava from the farm to factories, as attested to by the President, Sir Jare Oyesola, during an interview with the IITA Communication team. Oyesola mentioned how business has been discouraging, so much so that the organization began to think of it as a failure. “As a business management organization, we came up with ways to improve the efficiency of the business, while searching for solutions, and the IITA mobile processing plant was recommended,” he said.
Impressed by the Institute’s facilities, the farmers’ group is looking at partnering with IITA in getting the mobile processing equipment for the six Local Government Areas of Ogun State, starting with getting one cassava processor and starch producer from IITA to boost the group’s cooperative business.
The Matron, Chief Mrs Alaba Lawson and Mauruff Popoola, Youth Entrepreneurship Coordinator of the group, also talked about plans to get Ogun State youth trained on machine fabrication and agribusiness in IITA, for financial independence and improved livelihood. “Any youth that is interested in agriculture can find expertise and capacity building in IITA,” Popoola said.