• Monday, March 04, 2024
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Technology, key to success in food processing, packaging – CEO Daa Rhoda Foods

Technology, key to success in food processing, packaging – CEO Daa Rhoda Foods

Technology has emerged as a major driver of the food processing and packaging industry, especially for export, said the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (MD/CEO) of Daa Rhoda Foods, Onyinyechi Onyembi.

Daa Rhoda Foods, a fast-rising food processing and packaging company, said the future of the food industry is in export to join in the drive for foreign exchange needed badly to reflate Nigeria’s forex liquidity.

Onyembi (nee Egbu) spoke in an interview with BusinessDay in Port Harcourt, where she stated that the use of technology in the food processing and packaging process adds huge value through time-saving and cost reduction, leading to increased productivity to meet the increasing demand for food products.

The agro-industry expert said that high-tech processing and packaging are emerging as key tools to improve agriculture in Nigeria. She stated: “For us at Daa Rhoda Foods, we use the right technologies to add value to farm products through processing and we transform farm products from their earth form into ready-to-use products.

“Our products are uniquely processed and packaged to meet international standards and this has made it possible for us to record significant breakthroughs in the international market, thereby promoting export diversification and international trade opportunities for Nigeria.”

She went on: “As a food and beverage manufacturing firm, we are determined to push Nigerian indigenous soup condiments into the international market. We process and package dried ground food products such as egusi, ogbono, crayfish, prawns, and pepper.”

The Daa Rhoda Foods boss explained the role her firm plays in revitalising the agro-processing and packaging sector to reverse the negative food import trend in Nigeria. According to her, the answer rests on the twin engine of using the right tools and deploying trained personnel, stressing that utilising the right set of equipment and skilled labour ensures an increase in productivity, which in turn reduces production costs and maintains premium quality.

Onyinyechi Onyembi recommended: “The Nigerian government and private investors should invest in the agro-processing and packaging sectors geared towards the purchase of modern equipment and adequate infrastructure. Machines are much faster and they guarantee increased productivity and minimal production costs. It is pertinent to facilitate access to capital, build the capacity of agro businesses, and position agro processors for efficient food output delivery.”

The Managing Director further recommended reforming the agricultural curricula in Nigerian universities to address the gaps in industry skills. She also suggested harmonising food standards with international benchmarks and supporting processors to achieve global certifications.

She pointed to inadequate infrastructure, poor road networks, and poor power and water supply. She, however, noted that these factors drive up costs and limit productivity.

Others, she said, are: “Limited financing, high-interest rates, and collateral requirements that hinder access to credit for processors to upgrade and expand; low technology adoption on account of minimal automation; and inefficient equipment affect quality and safety.”

Again, she said, “We contend with inconsistent raw material supply; seasonal gluts and scarcity of inputs, like fruits, undermine processors; not forgetting poor skilled labour, as few food technologists and engineers lead to low efficiency and poor innovation.”

On financing, she said that Daa Rhoda Foods operates on internally raised finance, which allows the key players to focus on the strategy for growth and sustainability rather than worrying about loan repayment.

Addressing the quality concerns, Onyinyechi Onyembi said that Daa Rhoda Foods has put in place food and safety measures that must be adhered to by all her workers.

“We ensure that our factory workers and managers are well trained and attention-detailed to monitor all levels of production. We are consistent with our product quality and track our products from raw materials to finished products.

She said Daa Rhoda Food pays huge attention to efficient supply systems, elimination of waste, inventory tracking, improved transportation and distribution systems, human capital development with periodic staff training, the right equipment scheme, as well as financial dexterity.

She named major challenges in the agribusiness sector as inadequate Infrastructure, poor road networks, high-interest rates, collateral requirements, electricity and water supply, etc. She says these factors drive up costs and limit productivity.