FMN Reaffirms Its Commitment To UI Food Research Centre
The take-off of the Flour Mills Food Research Centre at the University of Ibadan (UI) received a major boost with the presentation of an additional N30 million by Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc (FMN) to UI recently by FMN's Group Managing Director Mr. Paul Gbededo.
The donation was made during the visit of a delegation of UI officials to FMN's new corporate head office at 1 Golden Penny Place, Wharf Road, Apapa, Lagos.
With the new donation, FMN has now committed a total sum of N60 million to the establishment of the Flour Mills Food Research Centre, having made an initial grant of N30 million to UI last year.
The UI delegation was led by the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academics), Prof. Idowu Olayinka included Professor Charles Aworh, a Professor of Food Technology and Dr. Rahman Akinoso, the Acting Head of the Department of Food Technology.
The UI-FMN partnership is part of on-going efforts at transforming the Department of Food Technology, UI, into a world-class centre of excellence in food research. Under the partnership, the FMN grant will be used for the procurement of equipment and running of the Food Research Centre during the first three years; UI will provide a building which will house the laboratories for pilot plant studies and research in food product development, lecture theatres, classrooms, seminar rooms and other facilities for teaching and research.
During the visit, Professor Olayinka said that Flour Mills Food Research Centre would engage in the training of students in food science and technology, food research and consultancy. The centre will also provide a modern food pilot plant for scaling up research in food product development and providing hands-on pilot plant experiences for food science and technology students.
This he said was a critical requirement for a fit-for-purpose training for the food industry with the students receiving better training and acquiring the necessary skills for self employment or a successful career in the food industry.
In his speech, Professor Aworh said that Research at the centre would extend to: promoting food security and enhancing small farmers' income through value added processing of lesser-known and under-utilized indigenous Nigerian crops; upgrading traditional food processing technologies and promoting culturally acceptable and affordable traditional foods.
He added that it would also include development using extrusion cooking, solar drying and other techniques of novel, low-cost, nutritious and safe foods, including noodles and other pasta products, complementary foods and snacks, for alleviating malnutrition in children; improving baking qualities of composite flour from wheat and other cereals, roots and tubers and other starchy food crops grown in Nigeria will also be added.
The Group Managing Director, Mr. Paul Gbededo who received the delegation in the company of Alhaji Olalekan Saliu, the Company Secretary/Director of Flour Mills, said that FMN was delighted to partner with UI in the food research initiative which would help to seek meaningful solutions to post-harvest losses in major crops grown in Nigeria and assist sustainability in food production.
Mr. Gbededo made a presentation on the FMN's agro-allied business strategy, potentials, linkage with its core food business and group synergies. He disclosed that FMN Group had invested over N220 billion in its agro-allied businesses which extend to large scale cultivation of sugar cane, cassava, corn, soybeans and oil palm in addition to expansion of animal feed production in different parts of the country.
The GMD explained that these backward integration programmes and initiatives which align with Federal Government's Agriculture Transformation Agenda, would help to strengthen and protect the supply chain of FMN Group's core food business. He said that as FMN seeks economic opportunities in agriculture and creates value for its stakeholders, it continues to give attention to education, research, social and environmental responsibilities. In addition, FMN's investments and efforts would create new jobs, increase agricultural output and contribute to food sufficiency and security in Nigeria against the background of growing population, urbanization and industrialization.