Lentus Foods and Agro Limited, a food-processing outfit based in Ugo in Orhionmwon Local Government Area of Edo State, is to introduce fufu flour and casameal flour-made from plantain into the local market.
The products are expected to hit the local markets by the end of the first quarter of this year, and thereby increase the company’s production line to four. The company, a strong supporter of the Federal Government’s cassava flour initiative, is currently producing cassava flour and starch in large quantity.
Donatus Imaghodor, chairman of the company, in a telephone interview with BusinessDay, explained that the new fufu floor was processed in a hygienic environment and contained less starch.
Also, the cassameal flour-blended plantain flour, which according to him, is like wheat flour, is very good for diabetic patients, because it contains iron and fibre.
The company is currently supplying cassava flour to Flour Mills of Nigeria plc, an indication that local flour millers are tapping into the cassava flour initiative of the Federal Government to utilise locally processed cassava flour in their production.
BusinessDay checks also revealed that HoneyWell Flour Mills Limited, another big player in the flour milling sector, has also started implementing the policy by accepting cassava flour from local processors.
Federal Government’s policy of inclusion of about 40 percent of cassava flour by flour manufacturers and in the production of bread and other confectionery is to encourage farmers to produce more, reduce import on wheat and create employment.
Lentus Foods plant, with two flash driers, has the capacity to process 120 tons of cassava flour and starch per month.
According to Imaghodor, it took the company eight years to come up with the plant, which is utilising locally fabricated machines for its operations.
He urged the Federal Government to encourage local machines fabricators by providing them with finance and other incentives to develop more machines as well as improve on the developed ones.
To him, one of the major challenges we have in the processing industry for now is unavailability of peeling machine for cassava flour and starch. The available machines are not effective and even the imported ones, end up crushing your cassava tuber and thereby reduce your output.
“For instance, there is a cassava flour processing plant, close to this factory, the owner invested well over N150 million on machinery, which he imported from England, but those machines couldn’t work, but he was shocked when he visited our factory and saw what we were able to achieve with locally fabricated equipment,” he noted.
Lack of power is another major challenge he identified, and urged the federal and state governments to provide power in the rural areas, noting that provision of electricity in such places would help reduce their cost of production, create more jobs for rural dwellers as well as reduce urban migration.
By: GODFREY OFURUM