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NCAM develops first heap-making tractors, oil palm milling tech

For the National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation (NCAM), Ilorin, Kwara State, part of its mandate is to develop machines that meet the needs of small…

For the National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation (NCAM), Ilorin, Kwara State, part of its mandate is to develop machines that meet the needs of small and medium-scale farmers and processors at rural and semi-urban communities. 

During the last National Agric Show, the NCAM showed the strongest presence with arrays of technologies developed by the institute to attract farmers, processors and investors.

NCAM develops first heap-making tractors, oil palm milling tech

Why farmers should show interest in avocado

Ms Christiana Adamade, an engineer and assistant director and head of the extension unit at the centre, explained why the centre developed the technologies in its disposal, and how farmers can benefit from them. 

One of such technologies is the heap-making machine for yam production. The technology is the first in Nigeria. 

“We came up with this when a former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, gave us a task, saying that in Benue State they were into yam production but making heaps had been a problem. He gave us that target and we told him we would come up with one. That was how we arrived at that technology,” the head of extension said.

She said that since the centre developed that technology, it had “sold many out” because of the number of ridges it made a day.

Innovations in oil palm milling, garri

The NCAM said it worked based on the need of local farmers.

“When our women want to produce palm oil, they would cook, and after cooking they would also use their legs to rub it. Now, you will find out that it is not hygienic, that’s why we came up with this palm oil processing machine. In fact, we have it in a bigger form, but the one we usually use for exhibition is smaller so that it would be easier for our farmers to carry around.

“We don’t use water, we use steam to do the cooking. Our women would put it in this drum container and put water, but we don’t use water. And before you can get steam, you would know that the water must have boiled to a high degree so that the temperature would be high to generate the required steam. By the time you finish having your palm oil, you would not see water. You know that the women, after extracting the first oil, would still cook for hours before lifting the oil, but in this technology there’s nothing like that.’’

On garri frying technology, she said the institute examined the complexity that follows manual process, which poses serious health hazard to the women, like the smoke, fire, and turning the garri with hand is energy-consuming.

“At the end of the day, we looked at it and thought of coming up with a machine, such that instead of using their hands to fry, there would be a paddle that could do the frying and turning so that we would erase the problem associated with manual frying,” she explained. 

The garri fryer was done in such a way that it can use firewood, as well as gas. This is to accommodate the needs of rural women, so that where they don’t have gas in their locations, they can use firewood.

The institute also made the machine semi automated, in the sense that there is a panel that controls the temperature, which will allow users determine the appropriate temperature they need.

How farmers can acquire it

Although the machines are designed with smallholder farmers in mind, affordability is still a major issue.

Adamade, however, said they had put that into consideration and advised farmers appropriately.

“For you to buy the machine, you need to have a co-operative society. So we advise them to come as a group so that by the time they get one in some months, they can get the money back and get another one. You must come as a cooperative. But if an individual has money to do so, fine,” she said.

She also said the cost of the machines would depend on the present price of materials, adding, “If we get the materials cheap, the price of the machines would come down, but if the cost is up, definitely, the cost of the machines would be up.”

The multipurpose rice milling technology 

The institute also has a multipurpose rice milling technology that can meet the need of smallholder processors.

“I usually tell people that when we plant, stones don’t grow with rice; it is based on handling.

“This particular technology has been designed in such a way that it will pass through de-stoning. You have to de-stone your rice before it will go through the conveyors to the finishing section. In other words, we are trying to achieve a situation whereby, when you finish milling your rice, it will just look like foreign rice. There will not be a single stone and it will be clean,” she also said.

Asked if she was comfortable with the level of funding from the federal government, she said, “The truth is that the federal government is trying when it comes to the agricultural sector. If we didn’t get the funding we wouldn’t be here. I don’t know if you understand what I am saying. We are located in Kwara State and moving all these machines and personnel down to this exhibition is not a small thing. So, at this point, I appreciate the federal government and our parent ministry; they are really supporting us. I will also appreciate the executive director, Dr Muideen Yomi Kasali, an engineer, because if he doesn’t have the interest of extension in mind we would not be here. We appreciate him for giving us the funding,” she said.

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