The challenge of diversification of the Nigeria economy and youth unemployment cannot be handled by government alone but through strategic partnership with relevant stakeholders.  This was revealed by the Director General/CEO of Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO), Dr (Mrs.) Gloria N. Elemo at the Memorandum of Understanding signing ceremony with Lions Club during the inauguration and public presentation of Lion Waheed Kadiri as the new District Governor of District 404B-1 on Saturday 20th August 2016, in Abeokuta Ogun State.

Speaking earlier, Senator Adegbenga Kaka a former Deputy Governor of Ogun State who was the Chairman of the event urged the members of the Lions Club to embrace and invest in the indigenous technologies available in the Institute as a means of resolving the paradox of Nigeria’s unemployment crisis. He said FIIRO is about the most important Institution in Nigeria that has the capacity to bail out the nation out of its current economic crisis through diversification of the economy into agriculture and agro-processing.

Lion Waheed Kadiri thanked the DG/CEO of FIIRO and her team members for gracing the occasion and for the beautiful presentation on investment opportunities for diversifying the national economy. He promised that Lions Club will engage fully engage FIIRO on youth empowerment and also in assisting members of Lion Club to set up small and medium enterprises based on FIIRO technologies. The DG/CEO in her closing remarks, called for setting up of an Implementation Committee that should have a target of organizing a program per quarter.

The DG/CEO commended Lion Waheed Kadiri, a town planner for initiating programmes that will outlive his one year tenure of District Governor. Lion Waheed appreciated the enormous potential of FIIRO towards realizing his goal of serving the community through entrepreneurship empowerment.

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Dr. Akinwumi Adesina has officially endorsed FIIRO’s 20% cassava bread and re-branded it “Cassy-Bread… powered by FIIRO”. This development took place during the Hon. Minister’s working visit to the Institute on Thursday, February 6, 2014. He expressed his satisfaction with the pioneering role of Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO) in Research and Development into High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) inclusion in bread and confectioneries. Dr. Adesina also acknowledged the support FIIRO has been giving in promoting the inclusion of HQCF in bread and its active role in transferring the technology to master bakers across the country.

The Director General of FIIRO, Dr. Gloria Elemo seized the opportunity to fully brief the Honourable Minister on the breakthroughs of FIIRO in Research and Development that have made far reaching impact on the brewing industry with the replacement of Barley malt with sorghum malt; Development of Weaning food (Soy-ogi), Palm wine production and preservation, Kunu production and preservation, Instant Pounded Yam Flour production, Edible mushroom cultivation and spawn production, etc. She further gave an insight into the activities of the Institute in the area of post-harvest loss reduction through its developed agro-processing technologies for most of Nigeria’s food crops and agro-commodities. Dr. Elemo also acknowledged the directive of the Hon. Minister for the Institute to be engaged in the training of 5,000 Master Bakers under the Cassava Bread Fund.

Dr. Adesina encouraged the Management of the Institute to extend the transfer of the technology of HQCF inclusion in bread to tertiary institutions in the country and also train those that have established their own bakeries on cassava bread production. He also charged the Institute to scale-up its Sorbitol and Glucose R&D Technologies in order to further maximize the Cassava Value Chain. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture through the Agricultural Research Council will give financial support.

The Hon. Minister further restated the commitment of the Federal Government to the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) as a means for creating more jobs, reducing food import bill and ensuring food security for the country. He opined that FIIRO is one of such organizations that his Ministry will be leveraging upon to drive the ATA to its logical conclusion.

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The Director-General/CEO of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO), Dr. (Mrs.) Gloria Elemo has called for the promotion and utilization of indigenous technologies as a means of diversifying and stimulating the development of the national economy.

Dr. (Mrs.) Elemo stated this on Thursday, 11th August, 2016 while receiving the Business Women Wing and the Agriculture Trade Group of the National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) in a working visit at the Agency.

The Director-General/CEO of the Institute revealed that the technological breakthroughs at the Institute avails the nation an alternative solution to its current economic problems especially now that the federal government is looking into agriculture and solid mineral to diversify the economy.

Also speaking at the event was the Director of Extension & Linkage Department, Dr. Dele Oyeku who advised NACCIMA to explore the various research and development breakthroughs at the Institute and to take advantage of the over 250 technology-based investment opportunities available therein. He asserted that the group would do well to invest in the various technologies available in the Institute amongst which are: Fruit Juice from Nigerian fruits; High Quality Cassava Flour; High Quality Cassava Starch; Odorless Fufu Flour; Cassava Chips; Cassava-based Adhesives; Cassava-based Macaroni; Instant Pounded Yam Flour; Frozen Yam Chips; Potato Flour; Potato Chips; Vegetable Oil Extraction; Edible Cashew Kernel; Ginger Powder; Hair & Body Pomade; Ground Rice; Zobo Drink; Kunu Drink; Bottle Palm wine; Fish Smoking; Mushroom Cultivation; Black Soap and a host of others.

Speaking earlier, the Chairman, Agricultural Trade Group, NACCIMA, Asiwaju Olaitan Alabi who is also the National Vice President, NACCIMA spoke about creating awareness amongst members and sensitizing the public on the Institute’s activities that are in line with the federal government’s agenda of exploring the agriculture sector as an alternative to the oil to boast the economy.

His colleague, the Chairman of the  of the Business Women Group (NAWORG), Iyalode Alaba Lawson who was represented by Chief (Mrs.) Nana Okunribido, the Vice President, South West, Women Group hinted about the group’s readiness towards developing women entrepreneurs and adding value to business communities in collaboration with FIIRO.

Mrs. Feyi Otokiti, who represented the Acting Director-General of NACCIMA expressed readiness of the association and its various groups to collaborate with FIIRO to ensure maximum deployment of indigenous technologies to diversify the national economy.

The Director-General, Dr. (Mrs.) Gloria Elemo responded saying that members of NACCIMA have contributed immensely to the economy in the fields of commerce, agriculture, mines and industry describing them as movers and shakers of the national economy. She assured the two groups of maximum support from the Institute on all their activities and programmes that will promote commerce and industrialization for job and wealth creation.

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The Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) facilitated a visit of the Inter Academy Council (IAC) to FIIRO on Tuesday, March 4, 2014. The visit was in recognition of FIIRO as a key stakeholder in Nigeria that has been interacting closely with NAS. The Nigerian Academy of Science is a partner of the African Science Academies Development Initiative (ASADI) whose activities the IAC was commissioned to evaluate by the United States Academies (USNA). According to Prof. Turner Isoun, a former Honorable Minister of Science and Technology, who led the delegation to FIIRO, the Council aims at evaluating the Vision for partnership between NAS – FIIRO & United States Academies. Such evaluation is to open up opportunities for projects that will attract International Funding.

It will also bring about opportunities for Exchange Programs, Collaboration with international Research & Development Institutions and Joint Funding of R&D projects amongst others. Other members of the IAC delegation were Prof. Rogpin Mu, Director General, Institute of Policy and Management (IPM), Chinese Academy of Sciences, Tom Arrison, Executive Director, Inter Academy Council, The United States National Academies and Dorothy Ngila, Study Coordinator, Academy of Science of South Africa. On the NAS team were Scholastica Lan and Mobolaji Dasaolu. While receiving the delegation, Dr. Gloria Elemo, Director General, FIIRO acknowledged the recognition given to the institute by NAS and the IAC. She also pointed out the accreditation exercise conducted on the institute by the Nigerian Academy of Science in 2011 and the participation of FIIRO in a recent workshop on the NAS-NLNG Science Prize. A general understanding was reached at the end of discussions for a formalization of partnerships between key stakeholders and the academies in the not too distant future.

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The 19th Nigerian Economic Summit was held between September 3-5, 2013, at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja. The central theme of the summit was Growing Agriculture as a Business to Diversify Nigeria’s Economy. The summit was used as a platform to evaluate the Agricultural Transformation Agenda of the federal government with the aim of ensuring that its potential translates into job creation, food security, social security and economic diversification. All the specific sectorial indicators that can crystallize the expected change were extensively considered with the following critical outcomes:

  1. Financing agribusiness to ensure a successful industry transformation: government has to put in place policies that will encourage access to funding from banks through cooperative societies. Practitioners in the industry need to develop cost-effective agro-specific insurance products.
  2. Advancing Information and Communication Technology for agriculture: government should implement projects that give incentives to operators to build networks in rural areas. There is need for government to also create an enabling environment for innovation, lower market-entry barriers and increase participation of Nigerian companies in ICT. Commodities Exchanges are considered an effective mechanism for achieving coordination and more efficient markets and as such the Abuja Commodity Exchange needs to be made more functional in addition to establishing electronic warehousing centers in the country.                     
  3. Exploring opportunities provided by Science, Research & Development: the new developments around science, research and development offers an opportunity for collaboration on the effective utilization of tropical wheat varieties. The government should put in place a proper channel for administering the Cassava Bread Fund in other to ensure that it gets to the intended beneficiaries. Public Private Partnership in R&D funding is imperative for a faster growth of the agro-allied industry in Nigeria. Government should further strengthen Intellectual Property Rights/Royalties in order to incentivize investment in market driven research.
  4. Implementing policies and incentives for developing the food and agribusiness industry in Nigeria: government should create visible infrastructure in agricultural communities to elicit interest in agribusiness. There is need for more venture-capital investment in agro-commodities. Government should also fast track the implementation of the staple crop processing zones.
  5. Sustaining the Agricultural Transformation Agenda: There is need to create a demand - driven Agricultural system that will give rise to a change in the current agribusiness labor composition. Encouraging investment in adaptive power alternatives. Expanding financing of Agriculture to bring about new financing arrangement at low interest rates. There is need for price stabilization, Crop Index Insurance, Setting up of agro-meteorological stations and branding of agricultural products.

    FIIRO is expected to play a prominent role in fast tracking the outcomes under Science, Research and Development. The institute is already on the right track given its prominence during the summit at which samples of bread and confectioneries made from HQCF were exhibited along with other R&D products. A good opportunity for collaboration is to partner with the Lake Chad Institute to evaluate the quality of the tropical wheat varieties developed by the institute and its adaptability for use as a substitute for imported wheat.

    The current participation of FIIRO in the implementation of the Cassava Bread Fund set up by the federal government is also noteworthy. It gives the institute an opportunity to share its expertise of many years in the utilization of the fund to achieve the government’s projection of broadening the Cassava Value Chain to create jobs, increase the livelihood of cassava growers/processors and the application of science and technology for value addition and higher capacity utilization.  

    The platform offered by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group for the institute to participate as Co-Chair on its Science and Technology Policy Commission could be well utilized to broaden FIIRO’s interaction/collaboration with the private sector particularly in ensuring that the gains from the 19th Summit remain sustainable for many years to come.

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Dr. Gloria Elemo and the Management of FIIRO played host to UNIDO Representative to Nigeria, ECOWAS & Director Regional Office, Mr. Patrick Kormawa, on Monday, April 7, 2014. Mr. Kormawa’s visit was to get him acquainted with the activities of the institute and how both organizations can further work closely together.

The history of UNIDO’s relationship with FIIRO dates back to 1968 through its contributions to the human capital development of the Institute and has metamorphosed over the years to include upgrading the research & development and documentation facilities of FIIRO. The impact of the contributions to human capital development has reflected on the institute’s achievements in R&D over the years and the impact they have made on national development. The capacity to offer training in the area of entrepreneurship has also been enhanced through the certification of in-house trainers on COMFAR 4 Expert training package designed by UNIDO.

Mr. Kormawa identified the current focused areas of UNIDO to include:

1. Poverty reduction through activities centered on inclusive and sustainable development;

2. Human Capacity Building;

3. Renewable Energy for rural & household electrification

4. Environmental Sustainability

He also mentioned that UNIDO’s intervention in Nigeria cuts across promotion of agro industrialization, standardization of process technologies & compliance by industries as well as partnerships on linkages of innovative technologies to industries.

UNIDO according to Mr. Kormawa is currently working with the Federal Government on closing the skills-gap amongst women and youths through the Industrial Training Fund, working with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to establish Staple Crops Processing Zones across the country, fabrication of turbines in rural areas for power generation, and working with women entrepreneurs. He also identified some areas of collaboration with FIIRO such as Processing Equipment Fabrication, Human Capacity Development, Creating Standards for Equipment manufactured/fabricated in Nigeria.

The highlights of FIIRO’s focused areas for intervention by UNIDO were listed to include:

1. Exploring the use of research extension services to drive the delivery of R&D outputs to a larger number of communities in Nigeria;

2. Upgrading the National Industrial Information Centre in FIIRO which provides documentation & library services for Scientists & Researchers and institutionalizing the mechanism for its sustainability;

3. Providing financial support and other assistance to SMEs that have undergone technology transfer training processes in FIIRO but lack the capacity to acquire the necessary equipment and machinery;

4. Provide support to expose Scientists, Researchers & Engineers in FIIRO to scientific innovations and trends globally;

5. Provide support for Laboratory Infrastructure & state-of-the-art equipment;

6. Linkage with end users of R&D outputs in the industrial sector to promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization at the country level.

A Memorandum of Understanding between the two organizations will be signed to concretize specific areas for further collaboration.

Mr. Kormawa later made a tour of the Food Processing Pilot Plant and FIIRO Bakery where 20% Cassava Bread is produced for a first-hand observation of the facilities. The tour concluded the visit of the UNIDO Representative to FIIRO.

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The existing relationship between FIIRO and the private sector got a boost at the Centenary Lecture of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) held on October 3, 2013 at the Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island. The forum provided an opportunity for the Director General of FIIRO to inform the participants of some of the many R&D Technologies that have been developed in FIIRO and the impact they will make on our industrial revolution if they are taken up and commercialized. She therefore made a clarion call on the private sector to partner with the institute to fast track the industrialization of the country by looking inwards for technologies and solutions that provide comparative advantage to those sourced for from outside the country. The response from the participants was positive with some organizations expressing their interest to collaborate with the institute. Other fall outs from the lecture are:

1. Strengthening existing relationship with LCCI

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry has evolved as a prominent chamber in the private sector. FIIRO will strengthen its existing working relationship with the chamber in order to ensure that all the relevant sectors of the chamber in which the institute is involved continue to feel its impact.

2. Collaboration with Dangote Group

A channel of communication has been opened between FIIRO and Dangote Group that will lead to both organizations collaborating with each other in the near future to create more jobs for Nigerians.

3. Collaboration with UNIDO

The Country Representative of UNIDO, Dr. Patrick Kormawa, who was present at the forum, expressed the willingness for more collaboration with FIIRO in fast tracking the development of the industrial sector of the Nigerian economy.

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The Management of FIIRO played host to NIFST’s Industry- Linkage Committee on May 12, 2014. The committee was led by Mr. Wole Toye. In her welcoming remarks, Dr. Gloria Elemo congratulated NIFST for the success of its last Annual Conference held in Abuja. She gave an insight into some of the projects and activities of FIIRO that may be of interest to NIFST some of which are:

  1. Close work with Flour Millers and CAVA (Cassava: Adding Value for Africa) in the promotion of High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF). She mentioned the work in progress in reference to having a standard recipe for the 10% cassava inclusion and the potential role for NIFST to support the standardization of HQCF recipes. She also mentioned the preparation of a draft bill on the adoption of HQCF for the National Assembly. FIIRO’s close work with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) on its cassava value chain expansion initiatives through the Cassava Transformation Agenda was also highlighted.

2. The standardization of locally fabricated food processing equipment informed a Fabricators Conference organized by FIIRO in 2012 to discuss how best to go about the process. There is also an on-going research to upgrade the design of the locally fabricated pepper grinder to “cutting and chopping” in a bid to reduce contaminants- primarily consisting of iron and magnesium. She stressed that the challenges faced by processing equipment fabricators must be solved locally as indigenous peculiarities often indicate why imported equipment are often not fit for use. Dr. Elemo also intimated the visitors of the interest of United Nations Industrialization & Development Organisation (UNIDO) in standardizing locally fabricated equipment and its collaboration with FIIRO in achieving this.

3. The on-going plan to establish an Industrial Enzyme Centre in FIIRO to support local production efforts and reduce enzyme importation to conserve foreign exchange was highlighted. She also informed the delegation that seven industrial enzymes have been developed by FIIRO and ready for scaling up to pilot scale.

4. In the area of accessing funding for SMEs, FIIRO is working with Oxfam Impact Investments to support FIIRO trained SMEs in the food processing sector.

Recapping FIIRO’s long standing relationship with NIFST, she mentioned how the first Nigerian Director of FIIRO, Dr. Isaac Akinrele happened to be the founding President of NIFST. She also expressed the view that the committee’s visit to the institute will help to see possible areas for collaboration and linkage in the food industry.

Mr. Toye in response expressed his appreciation to the DG and management for receiving his team. He gave a brief history of the Industry-Linkage Committee which was formed three years ago with the primary goal of refocusing NIFST on its primary objective of enhancing the progress of the food industry. Some of the highlights of the information and views expressed by members of the committee include;

1. The upcoming annual meeting of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) in New Orleans the United States in August and that of International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST) holding in Montreal Canada. The NIFST-Industry Linkage committee felt it may be expedient for NIFSTers in FIIRO interested in attending the conferences to leverage on NIFST’s assistance for their registration and other logistics.

2. The effort to standardize locally fabricated food processing equipment as well as the establishment of an industrial enzymes centre were commended and some members of the committee expressed their interest in collaborating with the Institute on the industrial enzyme project.

3. The recent inauguration of a Food Directorate in NAFDAC with the support of NIFST and the Food Industries in Nigeria was also highlighted as a platform that can be used to promote FIIRO’s technologies.

4. The itinerary of the Industry-Linkage Committee will also be made known to FIIRO so that it can be used as a platform to sell its R&D.

In her concluding remarks, Dr. Elemo expressed the following views,

  1. The need for a closer relationship between NIFST and FIIRO.
  2. FIIRO has been on a commercialization drive backed by public enlightenment for the past three years. However given the expensive nature of publicity and with FIIRO being a Government Organisation, the Institute is constrained to operate within its budgetary allocations.
  3. She acknowledged that the presence of NIFST, NICAPMA and similar organizations within the premises of FIIRO were integral to FIIRO’s strength as a Food Research Institute.
  4. Channels for collaboration with FIIRO on industrial enzymes production can be explored by parties interested.
  5. FIIRO has been initiating industrial visits to food companies towards building a closer working relationship with them.

The Techno-Entrepreneurship Division of FIIRO already reaches out to NYSC members and other potential target groups such as individuals in the pre-retirement phase, women, secondary school students and youths to get them familiar with the opportunities available for self-employment.

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