NIGERIA – Bühler, in collaboration with Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, has inaugurated a pioneering grains application center in Kano, Nigeria, to revolutionize the processing of local and ancient grains. 

This initiative is part of a broader commitment to tackling African food insecurity. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), around 2.3 billion people worldwide live in food-insecure conditions. 

Due to their specific advantages, local grains such as sorghum and millet are seen as vital tools in enhancing food security.

Despite their potential, the use of these raw materials remains minimal, and their processing needs to be developed. To address this challenge, Bühler and Flour Mills of Nigeria (FMN) and partners like Olam Agri have launched a dedicated Application & Training Center equipped with research and development capabilities.

The center’s primary goal is to advance the industrial processing of local grains, contributing to affordable nutrition. Johannes Wick, CEO of Bühler’s Grains & Food segment, emphasized the significance of this development: “Sustainable food value chains utilizing local grains are the number one priority to develop Africa.”

John Coumantaros, Chairman of the Board of Flour Mills of Nigeria, highlighted the business opportunities and the need to improve the food value chain. 

FMN has always been at the forefront of driving food self-sufficiency in Nigeria and progressively across the continent. The application center is well positioned to sustainably develop local grains, create business opportunities, and provide viable alternatives to some imported raw materials used in production,” Coumantaros stated. 

Local grains offer numerous benefits, including high nutrient density, climate tolerance, and lower requirements for fertilizers and pesticides. 

Ali Hmayed, Head of Bühler’s new Grain Processing Innovation Center (GPIC) in Kano, noted, “With these characteristics, local grains are ideal plants to be cultivated in Africa, specifically under the conditions of accelerating climate change.”

The GPIC, a three-floor building spanning 480 square meters, features pilot-scale production facilities, research and development labs, and classrooms. The production facility encompasses all processing steps, from cleaning and sorting to dehulling, tempering, and milling. 

At the heart of the plant is Bühler’s high-compression AlPesa grinding system. The GPIC will enable customers, researchers, and partners to collaboratively explore cost-efficient food processing solutions for local grains like sorghum, millet, maize, soybeans, and other local crops such as cassava, beans, nuts, and seeds.

In collaboration with the Bühler African Milling School in Nairobi, Kenya, the GPIC also offers training and education on local grains and their processing requirements. 

This new center will allow Bühler to optimize its processing portfolio for local grains in terms of performance and cost efficiency, being part of Bühler’s global network of 25 Application & Training Centers. The first series of trials with customers has already been scheduled.

Strengthening food security and economy

A significant challenge for food security in Africa is the heavy reliance on imported grains, primarily wheat and rice, making the continent vulnerable to trade disruptions and currency fluctuations. 

Ali Hmayed pointed out that local grains enhance food security and create jobs in agriculture and related markets, contributing to economic independence.

The transformation of Africa’s food supply chain will require collaborative efforts across multiple sectors, including agriculture, processing, recipe development, end-product innovation, and consumer engagement. John Coumantaros from FMN emphasized the need for a concerted effort to achieve this transformation.

Bühler’s Johannes Wick concluded, “Together with our partners, we at Bühler are happy to contribute to this system change, which aims to ensure that more people in Africa have access to affordable and healthy food, thereby reducing hunger and malnutrition.”

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