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The Locust Bean Tree: An Answer to Nigeria’s  Greatest Needs in meeting the international demand for Charcoal export all through the year

 

The production and sale of dawadawa, the fermented extract of locust seeds, constitutes an important economic activity for women across West Africa. (Photo credit: Lost Crops of Africa)

While the pulp makes for a good energy snack, the seeds are the plant’s most sought after product. Rich in protein, starch, fiber, sugar, and fat, as well as vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and iron, the seeds are about as nutritionally balanced a food as you can find. Because the pods mature during “the hunger season,” when most other vegetation has dried, the locust bean is a true lifesaver – it can be a source of emergency food with a high nutritional value.

The seeds are famous for their greasy extract, which is fermented and pressed into cakes or balls, known in West Africa as dawadawa. It has a pungent odor, often compared to that of aged cheese, and is used as a condiment or an ingredient for soup.

But the tree provides much more than just a source of nutritious food. Dawadawa’s widespread popularity makes the locust seed an important commercial item across West Africa. It is estimated that 200,000 tons of locust seeds are collected annually for dawadawa, just in northern Nigeria. The production and sale of dawadawa constitutes an important economic activity for women.

For instance, research has shown that every member of the family needs locust beans for good eyesight while the older ones need it to drive away hypertension and its other related conditions like stroke and diabetes.

Location: Charcoal can be produced from different part of the country especially in the south west region (Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Ekiti e.t.c), south-south and south-eastern part of the country (Enugu, Rivers, Cross river e.t.c) and also in the middle belt (Kwara, Kogi, Abuja and Benue) area of the country.

Nigeria has comparative advantage in the production and export of hardwood charcoal in Africa over her counterparts due to the large arable land available and the conducive climatic condition for the production of hardwoods.

 

The charcoal production industry is a multi-billion dollar industry and a money spinner for savvy investors to position themselves.

Charcoal, because of it uses, is a seasonal product in some clime while in others they require it all year round.

The total volume of exports from Nigeria cannot satisfy the demand in the European market.

The charcoal industry is a sustainable opportunity and engine for meaningful and sustainable socio-economic development at the household and national levels.

There are two methods of making Charcoal: direct and indirect

The direct method uses heat from incomplete combustion of the organic matter, which is to become charcoal. The rate of combustion is controlled by regulating the amount of oxygen allowed into the burn and is stopped by excluding oxygen before the charcoal itself begins to burn. The indirect method uses an external heat source to “cook” organic matter contained in a closed but vented airless chamber (retort). This is usually carried out in a metal or masonry chamber (furnace)

Return on Investment: You can turn your investment ten times within one year while profit in each trip is between N250, 000 and N270, 000

Charcoal for exports are usually shiny black, well carbonised, dried, cleaned and contain no un-burnt pieces, stones or which have been sorted out, and graded in three categories - industrial (20mm–60mm), barbecue (20mm-80mm), and restaurant (20mm-140mm).

 

It has been estimated that there are nearly 2,000 charcoal-producing units in the United States, including brick kilns, concrete and masonry block kilns, sheet steel, kilns, and retorts (a steel metal building). The state of Missouri produces a lot of this national charcoal product (they have until recently had less stringent environmental regulations) and 98 percent of all charcoal is produced in the eastern United States.

While charcoal can be made from any number of natural materials, hardwoods such as hickory, oak, maple, and fruitwoods are favored. They have unique aromas and tend to produce a better grade of charcoal. Better grades of charcoal come from raw materials with low sulfur content.

This wood is strong and burns for longer than other types of woods. Burns really hot and cleanly with hardly any sparking.