As government efforts are being intensified to make Kwara State the hub of agricultural activities and agro-allied investors-first destination in the country, an Ilorin-based engineer, Suleiman Famro has added an impetus into the government’s drive.
Famro has invented a multi-purpose crop processing machine branded ‘farmking extractor’. The machine was designed, primarily for the processing of root crops, especially cassava.
The other benefits offered by the processing machine is the opportunity for farmers to extract all the useful by-products of cassava for other economic uses.
Agriculture has remained the major source of job creation for thousands of Kwarans in the past one decade.
The journey to make the state an agric city began in 2004 with the invitation of some white Zimbabwean farmers to the state by the then Governor Bukola Saraki.
Basking in the euphoria of the successes recorded at the New Nigerians Commercial Farm in Shonga, Edu local government area of the state, Saraki’s successor, Governor AbdulFatah Ahmed, after assuming office did not waste time in rolling out more agricultural programmes for the benefit of the people of the state.
Governor Ahmed continued the journey started in 2004 by his predecessor through the signing of a N70 billion Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on rice cultivation, processing and packaging with a Spanish firm, Vasolar Consortium.
The rice project with sites in Shonga, Pategi, Lafiagi, Bacita and Share was designed to bring about the creation of 12,000 jobs in the state.
Aside, the rice project would be cultivated on 20, 000 hectares of land within a-four year period.
As part of the rice production’s by-product, a processing factory which would also serve as storage and distribution location would be sited in Share, Ifelodun local government area of the state.
It could be recalled that the state government had also inaugurated a committee saddled with the responsibility of designing agricultural master plan for the state.
The committee comprises of three professors from Cornell University, USA, two professors from the University of Ilorin while the Vice-Chancellor of the Kwara state University, Prof. AbdulRasheed Na’Allah serves as the team co-ordinator.
The initiative of the engineer that designed ‘farmking extractor’ – crop processing machine, is therefore a good complement to the efforts of the government in making Kwara an agric city.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP SUNDAY, Engr. Suleiman Famro said that he started his career in 1973 as the Head of Industrial Project Preparation at the Kwara State Investment Corporation and was given the responsibilities of preparing feasibility report and selecting machine, equipment and balancing them for various uses.
He claimed to have also designed the machines used at Pola Bottling Plant in Isanlu, Kogi state.
Lamenting the failure of the government to encourage local engineers to manufacture agricultural machines for the use of the farmers in the country, Famro noted that, “it is ironical that we have been spending so much money to import starch whereas we are the largest producer of raw material for starch. And in the processing of Garri, we loose up to 15 to 20 per cent of either flour or garri by-product in form of starch”.
He identified inadequate funding, lack of support from government and private individuals as some of the major challenges confronting the local engineers in their efforts to manufacture tools and machines, explaining that he expended a lot of money in travelling to China where some of the parts he used to manufacture his machine were procured.
The engineer advised the government to instill in the Nigerian youths vocational skills as a way of empowering them as against the present practice of distributing motor-cycles to them as means of poverty alleviation.
He opined that solution to youths restiveness, unemployment and other social vices bedevilling the nation lies in engaging the youths and empowering them by giving them adequate knowledge to produce some major things that could be useful for the people and for export.
According to him, this would help to improve the nation’s economy as it would no longer rely on importation of foreign machines for its domestic use.
Famro stressed the need for Kwara state government to consider the machine he manufactured as a poverty alleviation tool and as well, form the farmers in the state into co-operative societies through which they could have access to the machine.
He called on the stakeholders in agricultural sector, including banks and government to partner with him so that more of the machines could be manufactured for the benefit of all.