The vast potentials inherent in Nigeria’s flour mill industry, with the positive spin-off effects on the economy vis-à-vis infrastructural development, job creation and food/nutrition security are yet to be fully tapped into. In spite of the presence of key players such as Honeywell Flour Mills, Crown Flour Mill Limited, Dangote Flour Mills, Flour Mills of Nigeria (FMN) Plc and Life Flour Mill Ltd, the opportunities are still there waiting to be tapped.
For instance, while the flour industry in Nigeria puts the value of Nigeria’s 3.2 million-tonne flour market at $2 million, the growth is put at 3.5 per cent a year. Similarly, while the United States Department of Agriculture Attaché Forecast estimated that Nigeria’s 2018-19 imports of wheat was at 5.4 million tonnes, the domestic production stood around 60,000 tonnes. The bitter truth therefore, is that the industry which is dependent on imported wheat as its main ingredient for flour could do much better with the backward integrated policy.
With downstream food products such as bread, pasta, noodles and biscuits, in addition to the demand for the principal products of the milling industry including bread flour, pasta flour, noodle flour, confectionery flour and semolina the market is wide and attractive.
And that is precisely what Kings Flour Mill located at Onna, in Akwa-Ibom State is here to do as part of its mandate to make the difference. Precisely in August 2019, it was already producing 500 metric tons per day. So, with the onslaught of the debilitating COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the millwhich produces the best flour for all types of baking, as well as wheat offals for animals, as feed was on hand to curb the scarcity of high quality flour in the county.
According to Prince Bassey Inwang, chairman of the Akwa Ibom State branch of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), the coming into the industry of Kings Flour Mill has opened another window for the farmers to go into the local production of wheat, being the major raw materials for the mill. With AFAN in the state having already acquired two hectares of farmland in Ibiono Ibom local government area of the state they farmers have embarked on the cultivation of wheat under a pilot scheme.
What is important and imperative is for the project to be seen to its logical conclusion. In fact, experts on agricultural insist that wheat can be effectively cultivated in Akwa Ibom if it is taken seriously. The experts posited that such cultivators could attract billions of Naira as key suppliers to Kings Flour Mill. That is where government’s provision of an enabling industrial environment and incentives come into play.
Good enough, that the far-sighted Governor Udom Emmanuel has virtually turned the oil-rich state into Nigeria’s new industrial hub. Thestate with 6.5 million people is now home to a syringe manufacturing factory, said to be the largest in Africa, a meter manufacturing company, described by the Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as an “exceedingly important project”, and a fertilizer blending plant.
With more than 10 large and small scale industries, located in various parts of the state, the coming of King Flour mill has added the much-needed economic drive.One of the privately owned companies is Udonwa-owned Norfin Offshore Ltd, constructing a ship-building yard in Oruk-Anam Local Government Area of the state.The company is investing an initial capital of $5million in the project. The firm is planning to build supply-vessels for oil platforms, tugboats, batches, ocean fishing boats, and ferries for both Nigerian and foreign markets.
It is therefore, understandable why the Chief Executive Officer of Kings Flour Mill at Onna, Onur Kumral has identified Governor Udom Emmanuel’s industrialisation policy and the peace identified to the state, as major catalysts that have attracted numerous investments in the last couple of years. Speaking while conducting the commencement of test run of the flour mill a few years ago, Onur said he and other investors were able to come to AkwaIbom because the governor had formulated a framework to partner with private investors to bring their investments into the state.
“Governor Udom Emmanuel is the one that was executing the procedures and policies. That’s why investors like me are here, you cannot take it like 100 percent private investment, you have to take it like a coalition between the government and the private companies. It is instructive to note the factors that have facilitated the smooth take-off of the flour mill.
One of such is the location in the Onna industrial corridor which also host the jubilee syringe manufacturing company, the metering solutions manufacturing company and the Ibom integrated farms. The other factor is that it has excellent network of roads and is just about 10km from the Ibom power plant. Significant also is its closeness to the sea port.
It should be noted that Kings Flour Mills’ foray into Nigeria’s industry came in 2019 when the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) reported that 800 companies shut their doors. That explains why people are celebrating the giant strides taken by the Gov. Emmanuel-led administration for fully supporting the industrial revolution.
Moving forward, KFM should continue to apply the most modern technology in its processes and operations. These include ABC machinery built for many wheat flour mill plants across the world, including New Zealand, Nigeria, Algeria, Russia, Uzbekstanand Pakistan, to expand their wheat flour manufacturing business in flour mill industry. Equipped with Flour Milling Machine,Fan, Classifying Screen, Rotoscalper Reel, Combination Sift and Scourer and Destoner, Destine and Wheat Washer, Pipes, Cabinet their products will continue to meet internationally accepted standards as enforced by both the Standards Organization of Nigeria(SON) and NAFDAC.
With regards to the marketing of its products, the Head of Sales, Kings Flour Mill, Frank Agaba, insists that: “Our distribution is open to those who are interested to do business with us”.
The lessons for Nigeria include the facts that, governors of other states should identify their areas of core competence as it concerns the available natural endowments and provide the enabling environment for the investors to thrive. The need to revive the near comatose manufacturing sector will act as catalyst for job and wealth creation and self-reliance. The time to begin to process what we have and export is now.
.Baje is Nigeria’s first food technologist to practice fully in the media