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Yam Flour Production for Export

 

Yams are second to cassava as the most important tropical root crop. Yams are a staple crop in many parts of Africa and Southeast Asia. In the South Pacific, the yam is a significant food crop, accounting for over 20%, 8.1%, and 4.6% of the total dietary calorie intake in the Kingdom of Tonga, Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea, respectively. Besides their importance as food source, yams also play a significant role in the socio-cultural lives of some producing regions like the celebrated New Yam Festival in West Africa, a practice that has also extended to overseas where there is a significant population of the tribes that observe it. In some parts of Southeastern Nigeria, the meals offered to gods and ancestors consists principally of mashed yam. Yams store relatively longer in comparison with other tropical fresh produce, and therefore stored yam represents stored wealth which can be sold all-year-round by the farmer or marketer. In parts of Igboland in Southeastern Nigeria, it is customary for the parents of a bride to offer her yams for planting as a resource to assist them in raising a family.

 There is no doubt that Nigeria produces yam in abundance. In every state of the country, yam is available.

It is estimated that over 30% of the harvested yam tubers are lost as waste due to in availability of processing and preservation mechanism. Even the traditional processing method is out modelled and laborious but also grossly inefficient for mass production to satisfy the teeming population and local demand and also make room for the export market to earn scarce foreign exchange that is badly needed at this time of the country.

 

The consumption of yam cuts across cultural, religious and demographic boundaries.

A cherished delicacy when served with well prepared soup. Its processing shelf life, adds value to the tubers, before being exported to enhance their economic value, reduces wastes and cuts down the cost of transporting the product to longer distances compared with the heavy wet tubers that are unprocessed.

The fact that this can be preserved helps to stabilise prices during the off- harvest season.

Technical Considerations: The plant aimed at here will take drudgery off the processor, increase the output as well as give good quality finished product for export. Its rated capacity is 300 metric tones (MT) of finished yam flour per year (8) hours per day and 250 days in one year) after allowing about 2.5% waste. This means that about 1, 500 MT of raw tubers will be needed per annum.

The machinery and equipment needed to process yam flour are:

(a) Yam peeler (d) Mil g mach e (b) Boiler (e) Scale (c) Dryer (f) Ba~ sealing machine (g) Packing machine

All the above machines and process technology are source able locally. The spare pats are abundant and readily available while the cost is affordable and maintenance cheap.

Production Process: Briefly, the processes involved in yam flour production are (1) Procurement of good quality tubers, weighing and washing of them (2) Peeling the washed tubers. This is preferably done manually because the peeling machine is difficult to fabricate locally. (3) Grinding of the peeled tubes into pulp (4) Drying of the ground yam pulp (5) Milling the dried pulp (6) Sieving to avoid having lumps when being prepared for eating (7) Bagging and packaging in cellophane (2kg, 5kg, 10kg, 25kg and 50kg) Raw Materials The raw materials needed are wet yam tubers. These are obtainable from farms cultivated by plantation, small holder and co-operative farmers. If there is a country that should take this project very seriously it is Nigeria. It is the world's largest producer of yams (over six million metric tones) accounting for over 50% of its output. Of this output, only about 5% (300, 000 MT) is put into industrial use by way of chips and flour.

        The states in Nigeria most noted for yam tuber production are Abia, Anambra, Benue, Delta, Edo, Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo, Niger, Sokoto Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Federal Capital Territory etc. The Market The market is both local and international. The later market should be targeted where there is preponderance of inhabitants of African decent. The factors that positively affect the demand for this product include the prevalence of foreign exchange crunch (which has left many with little personal disposable income to import food items), the increase in population of the country, the fact that its consumption cuts across demographic classes, income levels and religions boundaries etc. The products can be sold to other parts of the world including Britain, America and other ECOWAS Countries

 Location: The best place to, locate this project is the area where yam tubers are obtained in abundance. The tubers are perishable commodity. Besides, they are heavy and so transport and expense is an important cost inputs that should seriously be considered and reduced to increase profit for the promoter. Other factors to be considered include: (a) Availability of labour and raw materials in commercial quantity (b) Availability and serviceability of infrastructural facilities (light, water, access road etc) (c) Ease or otherwise of the accessibility of the plant site to urban area/market both for local consumption and export etc. To accommodate the plant, one needs a large building with a land area of about 1, 500m2.

 Labour Requirement: About 15 persons will be needed to cover all the aspects of the project purchasing, administration, production, security marketing etc. A comprehensive bankable and up-to date business plan is needed to back up the loan application. Any prospective promoter is advised to approach an experienced industrial projects development consultant for assistance. The actual cost at the time of implementation will be determined by the scale of operation sought and after the business plan has been prepared. Financial Implications Investment depends on how much that the prospective investor has earmarked for this project. The modern water project demands large sum of money to procure all the required hi-tech machines.

. Conclusion The implementation of this will have the following advantages among others (a) Creation of job opportunities (b) Opening up of the rural areas (c) Poverty alleviation among the yam growers and processors (d) Enhancement of economic and social well-being of the promoters (f) The processing of otherwise wasting agricultural produce etc. Aggressive and serious promoters are encouraged to give this project a shot. For details please contact the writer, Uba Godwin, Global Trust Consulting Group, 56, Ishaga Road (1st floor) Surulere, Lagos Tel: 4721550, 08023664368