A Professor of Food Engineering at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Babatunde Adewumi, has said that lack of self belief on the part of Nigerian leadership is one of the factors affecting research efforts in the country.
Adewumi, who has produced several machines majorly used in the food industry, also described inadequate funding as one of the major challenges facing research growth in the country.
According to him, inferiority complex makes people who should know to look down on indigenous products.
He said, “Generally in Nigeria, we do not believe in ourselves (low self ego). We believe in and rely more on foreign products rather than improving the quality of our own. The government will not patronise our products and professionals but do so to foreign products and expatriates, even when there are better local alternatives.
“The government and other relevant organisations should look inwards and provide the enabling environment for universities to operate. They should support research and patronise research breakthroughs so they do not end up on the shelves but get to the market. There is also the need to maintain proper networking among researchers and relevant stakeholders,” he said.
He called on other researchers, especially the up-an-coming ones, not to make money their priority, while urging them to seek knowledge that would promote the economy.
He said if adequate investment was made in research, many problems such as joblessness and corruption would be taken care of.
The don urged researchers to be patient and prevent what he called the ‘quick research outcome syndrome’ which only led to publishing inferior quality papers, without practical results or applications.
“Also, the Nigerian industrialists have not helped matters. They have not been adequately sponsoring research because they want immediate and huge gains with minimum investments. This makes the nation to keep buying and not producing. If the United States of America spends $1bn on research today, it will gain $10 billion in the nearest but not necessarily immediate future,” Adewumi noted.
He explained that his interest in solving practical problems in the society was the driving force behind his research as an academic.
According to him, the passion to help, whenever there is a challenge, drives him.
“I look at what the practical challenges are and what go for practical solutions that are economical,” he said.
Adewumi said he had developed over 30 machines that were working, among which were those for locust beans, popularly called Iru in Yorubaland.
Others are the steamer unit for the locust bean seed that helps in reducing the boiling time of the seeds, from about 24 to 36 hours, to only about one to two hours.
“Aside from the drastic reduction of the processing time and drudgery, the steaming process retains the original golden yellow colour of the cotyledons of the bean and upgrades the value of the crop beyond its use as traditional food condiments to industrial crop, especially in pharmaceutical and food industries,” the don explained.
He added that apart from the steaming machine, he had developed different types of dehulling machines and hydro cyclone separator for locust bean processing, which had produced desired solution by reducing time, energy or power requirements and drudgery to the barest minimum.
“Those machines have also improved production efficiency, quantity, quality and rate,” he said.
For poultry farmers, he has developed various types of incubators, including, charcoal-fuel, electrical, electrical cum kerosene fuel; solar incubators for hatching eggs; three types of egg candlers for assessing egg fertility with embryo development, manually-operated milking machine for small ruminants, and a beak-trimming machine to prevent cannibalism.
Others developed by the don include manually operated and motorised plantain chipping/ slicing machines, a pneumatic separator, cashew seed decorticator, manual and motorised cashew nut shell liquid extractors, manually operated impact type cocoa pod breaking machine, manually operated and motorised charcoal heated gari frying machines, motorised mango juice extractor and screw extractor for groundnut oil.
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