Prof. (Mrs) Gloria Elemo led a team of scientists and researchers to the Hilltop residence of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (GCFR) to intimate him on the various landmark achievements of the Institute since the last time he visited FIIRO during his tenure as the President of Ngieria.
Prof. Elemo in her address appreciated Chief Obasanjo for his unflinching support and interest in the activities of the Institute, stating that during his visit to the Institute in March, 2004, he identified cassava bread, one of the numerous R&D outputs of the Institute, as a project that should be given national attention and priority due of its numerous advantages as it relates to food and nutrition security; employment and wealth generation; and value addition to a golden crop of comparative advantage for the nation. The DG/CEO also used the opportunity of the visit to congratulate His Excellency on his 80th birthday anniversary, and the official commissioning of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library.
She intimated His Excellency that the Institute has developed over two hundred and fifty (250) technologies in its sixty years (60) of existence and these technologies could be deployed in the 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) for massive job creation and economic stimulation through processing and value addition to raw materials of relative advantage in each of the LGA. She informed that the Institute has developed a blueprint on how this process could create about 3 million jobs annually through direct and multiplier effect. A comprehensive survey on raw materials of relative abundance in these LGAs was conducted, and the adequate FIIRO technologies that are suitable for processing the raw materials in these LGAs have been identified. The result of this survey has been documented in a quick reference book titled “Investment Opportunities for Job Creation based on FIIRO Research and Development and Available Raw Materials in 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria.
She stressed that collaboration with relevant organizations was one of the major strategies the Institute was adopting to ensure effective technology diffusion. The objective of the collaboration with indigenous fabricators and professional engineering bodies is to reduce importation of processing machinery and equipment especially for MSMEs. She also expressed optimism that with this singular effort, very soon over 80% of machinery and equipment need of the MSMEs would be met by indigenous fabricators in Nigeria. This she said, will stimulate the growth of the national economy as well as lead to conservation of foreign exchange due to anticipated reduction in volume of imported machinery and equipment from China, India, Malaysia etc.
The Director General also informed His Excellency that the Institute has signed MoU with NASCO Group on commercial production of High Nutrient Density Biscuit, targeted for the National School Feeding Programme as well as the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps to reduce the increasing rate of malnutrition. She said the adoption of the biscuit and the High Nutrient Density Drink as one of the main menu for the School Feeding would not only see the nation as adopting best practices in School Feeding Programme as recommended by the World Food Programme but would also ensure nutrition security of school age children through provision of one-third of their daily Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA).
Another major research breakthrough was the Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) developed at the Institute using indigenous raw materials. RUTF she said, will be used to combat the problem of severe malnutrition especially in the IDPs camps. Prof. Elemo also talked about the Institute’s Nutracetical Research Programme developed from two legumes that are locally available. She said scientific and clinical evidences have shown that the product is very potent for the management of sickle cell anaemia, and informed that the Institute has signed an MoU with May and Baker Nigeria Plc on commercial production of nutraceutical products and Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods.
The DG highlighted some areas in which the Institute is seeking the intervention of the Federal Government and donor agencies within and outside the country. Some of these areas are:
- Support for increased awareness for utilization of the instrument of
Science and Technology for national economic growth.
2. Support for intervention fund to remodel, re-equip and re-tool existing 50 laboratories and workshops.
3. Support for establishment of 36 catalytic model factories in all the 36 states of the Federation based on raw materials of relative advantage in each state.
4. Support for adoption of High Nutrient Density biscuit and drink for the national school feeding programme
5. Support for establishment of industrial enzymes model plant
6. Support for establishment of state of the art molecular laboratory
7. Support for establishment of packaging center
8. Support for construction of entrepreneurship centre.
In his response Chief Obasanjo thanked the DG/CEO for the presentation on the programmes and activities of the Insttute, pointing out that he was quite impressed by the achievements of the Institute over the sixty years of establishment. He expressed delight at the Institute’s visit and his confidence in the professionalism and resourcefulness of the DG and her team. He was optimistic that the Institute could lead Nigeria out of its large scale unemployment of youths through its programmes on value addition to agro-raw materials and solid minerals. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo commended FIIRO DG for the passion and enthusiasm in carrying out her duties, while expressing that all that is needed is an impetus especially making the resources available from government and non-government sources in order to fully realize her mandate of industrializing the nation.
In responding to the request put forward by the Institute, Chief Obasanjo requested that the Institute come up with an Executive Summary on the Entrepreneurship Center, indicating the benefit and cost implication for the center with the hope of soliciting for assistance from international organizations as he travels outside the country. He expressed satisfaction with this initiative, especially as it would assist in addressing the issue of youth unemployment.
On the 10% cassava flour inclusion in bread baking, Chief Obasanjo said that the absence of continuity in governance has been the bane of actualizing the gains of the policy. He encouraged the Institute to forge ahead in the promotion of cassava/wheat bread
His Excellency said Obasanjo Farm was trying to set up a laboratory to test soil, plant resources, and all aspects of farming including analysis of feeds, blood sample analysis, amongst others. On this, he informed that he would send a representative to the DG for further discussion and possible collaboration. He also said that Obasanjo Farm Laboratory could work with the Institute on Industrial Enzyme production. He charged the Institute to encourage her collaborators especially Nasco Group and May and Baker Nigeria Plc who have adopted her technologies. He said this would discourage importation of goods/items that we have local capability and capacity to produce. On a last note, his Excellency promised to visit FIIRO and to continue to be an advocate of FIIRO in Nigeria and all over the world.