Plant equipment super star and techy octopus, Buhler Group, has bathed Nigeria with renewed hope, saying, “if we want to turn Nigeria into the great country that it can and will be, we have to start producing and processing across the whole agro-value chain in Nigeria.”
Spotlighting virtually on the entire Nigerian agriculture value chain in an interview, the popular technology partner beckoned on maize as the David that should defeat Goliath wheat especially now that the Russian-Ukraine war won’t edge away.
According to Mr. Manuel Murrenhoff, the company’s Managing Director: “We see a lot of demand that has been existing but we are now seeing a switch where instead of wheat, processors want to use flour from local grains such Rice, Maize Sorghum, Soya, Beans, and Millets because that will reduce our Forex exposure.”
Mr. Murrenhoff then affirmed: “One of the hottest I see now is maize because it is very versatile.”
Buhler’s MD went further: “I believe Sorghum has a huge potential for export because when we look at the image it has in Nigeria, it is seen as the poor man’s food (or given to babies as pap).”
“But if you go to the U.S. or other western countries, when you want to buy sorghum flour, it is branded as ‘the most nutritious superfood from faraway’. You buy it for five pounds per 500 grams. It is extremely expensive and it is highly nutritious.”
Adding: “So you see how consumer perception can completely shift the game. While here in Nigeria it is considered a low-quality food, abroad where people are very health conscious and they also have the extra funds to invest in what they call a superfood, sorghum has a big advantage.”
Mr. Murrenhoff then advised: “We should also be looking for what can also be exported from Nigeria to balance out the trade balance and to generate forex, which can further be reinvested into the country.”
The Buhler Group’s CEO also touched on cocoa. Take a look at his take below:
One challenge that we have with cocoa is the same challenge we have with oil. We export in its raw form, and often not even cleaned properly.
It’s just exported to for example, Ghana, Ivory Coast, and even Cameroon where they have the facility to clean the cocoa and produce or process further into cocoa butter, cocoa liquor and cocoa powder. That on a larger scale is still missing in Nigeria.
Because we don’t have this processing infrastructure, the easiest way to make a quick buck is to export it, but it will not create jobs, will not lower the dependency on imports and finished products and therefore will not improve the trade balance.
What we have to do is ensure what is produced on the farms is processed in Nigeria, thereby creating jobs that will improve the GDP per capita.
This will then help people to spend more money, which will fuel the economy. It will help people to get trained. It will help people to get jobs and not lured to engage in illegal activities. These are possible when we produce in Nigeria for Nigerians.
Exporting the raw material and then importing the finished goods might be a way to deal with things in the short run. In the long run, it will only hurt and keep Nigeria as it is at moment.
But if we want to turn Nigeria into the great country that it can and will be, we have to start producing and processing across the whole agro-value chain in Nigeria.
Cocoa has a wonderful example of that because it is grown here, and there is a big off-taker market with roughly 220 million people. There is so much potential but right now all these products are imported, and this is what we want to change together with our partners.
Buhler Group in Capsule
Buhler Group is a Swiss multinational plant equipment manufacturer with presence in over 140 countries including Nigeria. The hydra-headed company is popularly known for plant and equipment and related services for processing foods and manufacturing advanced materials – safe to say Buhler is in every sector.
The organization holds leading market positions worldwide in the fields of technology as well as processes for transforming grain into flour and animal feeds, producing pasta and chocolate, and manufacturing die cast components. The core technologies of the Group are in the field of mechanical and thermal process engineering.
To put it simpler, the MD explained: “We are mostly active around grain processing and its derivatives. When you look at grain or oil seeds, we provide equipment to mill them but do not stop there.”
He added: “We provide equipment that can turn them into further value-added products like pasta, animal feeds and we turn them also into ready-to-eat foods, like chocolate, biscuits, wafers, crackers, cookies.”
“The easy way to say what Buhler is doing and what it is not doing is; if it’s grainy free-flowing product, there is a high chance that we provide equipment to process it. But we are not into liquid processing.”
“Even though we provide equipment for breweries and malting, these are in the grain cleaning and preparation area, and also storage. Before grains go into the brewing and fermentation tanks, they have to be cleaned, stored and then milled, which is where Buhler plays.”
To learn more about Buhler, do feel free to look up the company’s Services page. Thanks.