Nigeria, and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, is heavily dependent on imported wheat, in particular from Russia and Ukraine. With a growing population, food sovereignty and security through local grain production is essential to the region’s future prosperity. Bühler is providing the technology to achieve this with its Grain Processing and Innovation Center (GPIC), which will open early in 2024 in Kano, northern Nigeria. The GPIC will support local producers in the development of safe and affordable food.
The GPIC will provide the technology and solutions to support regional food processors in the development of safe and affordable foods using local grains, such as sorghum, millet, maize, soybeans, groundnuts, pulses, and tuber crops, including cassava. Based in a three-floor building spanning an area of 480 m2, the GPIC will help to bridge the gap between the test bench and industrial-scale production without the requirement of large investments by producers. Its grain cleaning, optical sorting, dehulling, preparation, tempering, and milling sections will ensure process validation, optimize the production process, and act as a center for developing new products.
“Bühler and our food processing partners understand this need and share the belief that the empowerment of Africa starts by adding value to its natural resources in their country of origin,” says Ali Hmayed, Head of the Grain Processing and Innovation Center, Bühler Nigeria. Located at the edge of the Sahara, Kano is the trading and processing hub for agricultural commodities reaching West Africa. Many climate-resilient local grain varieties are traded here. Local grains play a key role in addressing food security due to their nutritional value and ability to cope with climate-change related stresses such as drought, heat, salinity, and shorter growing seasons.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), by the end of this century, Nigeria – Africa’s biggest economy – will be the world’s second most populous country after India. By 2050, Nigeria will be home to half a billion people and by 2100 this number will have increased to nearly 800 million. This rapid growth, driven by a high fertility rate, will place enormous strain on the price of available food and the already fragile social services and infrastructure.
Population growth, unstable supply chains, and an unsustainable model of grain import are the main drivers in the search for a more efficient food supply; the high cost of food and tradable goods account for the bulk of rising inflation in sub-Saharan Africa. The region is therefore seeking to reduce its dependence on wheat imports, particularly from Russia and Ukraine, through local grain production and processing. Bühler is contributing its technological expertise to this vision with the establishment of the GPIC.
In the journey to sustainable food security, the first hurdle is for Nigeria to feed itself and then for it to feed the rest of Africa. “Achieving food sovereignty and security requires a plan: 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land is in Africa and Nigeria has the most arable land on the continent, at 34 million hectares. Nigeria must grow and process what it eats,” says Ali Hmayed.
Collaborative platform to inspire and innovate
Currently, achievement of this is hampered by the fact that many food producers are unable to move on from the lab stage of new product development or may require clarity on the right techniques required to match local consumption with farm production – such as the most economical hygiene and process requirements.
As local grains are adapted to the local climate, rich in vitamins and minerals, drought tolerant, and require little agricultural input, Nigeria certainly has the potential to achieve its food security ambition. “We know our customers want to work together with us on the development of safe and affordable food using local grains to meet rising market demand,” says Iyore Amadasun, Sales & Channel Business Manager at Bühler Nigeria. “The GPIC demonstrates Bühler’s commitment to motivate and inspire that drive to action. We are in Nigeria, for Nigeria.”