Food is not just a necessity to human survival. Mr. Akindele Faleye, Managing Director, WUFAS AGRONet, a food processing consultancy firm, believes food processing, if properly harnessed, could become a major contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and help create jobs for a chunk of the unemployed youths. In this interview with FELIX OLOYEDE, he shared his over 40 years experience in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industry and spoke on the dangers of baby formulas. Excerpts:
What brought about WUFAS AGRONet?
WUFAS AGRONet was brought about as a result of passion of giving back to the society through entrepreneurial/empowerment in Food processing Technology, especially the youth who do not such opportunity of industrial experience since I have forayed widely in the field. As a brew-master at North Brewery Limited Kano, Production Manager, 7up Bottling Company, Technical Sales Manager (CCP), Cadbury Nigeria Plc, Yeast and Alcohol Manufacturing Company Bacita Assistant Factory Manager, Prime Distillery Sango as Plant Manager, Lafia Canning Factory Ibadan, Diary Production etc. The need to give back to society from my experience over the years gave birth to WUFAS AGRONet.
How did you develop interest for food in the first place, women are more associated with food.
My interest for food processing was developed while growing up as a baby; my maternal grandma was into Locust beans (Iru) fermentation. I was so fond of grandma’s career then that I would skip school (not to the knowledge of my mother) to help grandma and she loved my being with her most time; this influenced my studying food processing Technology
How long has WUFAS AGROBNet been in existence and what has it been able to achieve over the years
WUFAS AGRONet started in 2014 as an Entrepreneurial/Empowerment consultant in Food Processing Technology. We embrace General Manufacturing principles which involve Food Management System, Quality Control Management System, Production planning/Programming Modeling, Risk Assessment, Water Treatment, and Corporate Management.
In food processing water takes about 80% of the entire volume hence it is mandatory for us to train people on Water Treatment in the four phases of Analysis such as Physical Appearance, Chemical, Trace/Toxin, Heavy chemical and microbiology. We empower individuals, group and also consult with business owners start-ups in Food processing to re-jig their production process and provide General Manufacturing principles (GMP) audit. We also advise on appropriate machinery and equipment for production as well as installation of same. We can partner with Agro allied organizations and industries to promote standard General Manufacturing Principles in Food processing Technology.
You said Nigeria have significant insufficiency in our Food Production value chain. How can this be addressed?
Sufficiency in food value chain should not be addressed from the staple food derivatives only, value chain alone, and those things that are relevant in production of food. Appliances such as Pando yam machine has added value to the chain of yam product. Others such as pressure cooker, grilling oven, even fertilizers etc are also contributing to this. With Food derivatives, what we are still having today are handed down by our forefathers, take cassava derivatives such as gari, fufu, starch, various other items such as caramel, ethanol etc should be encouraged the more.
Some experts say people above 40 years should not eat egg? How true is that and why?
I think the fact is obvious, after 40 years the body must be carefully maintained not for growth again but management. In the developed world, egg is part of their daily food, they eat in excess but can the same be said in our situation in Africa? Anything done in moderation is the best. However, there is the need to take the issue of choler-sterol build up in the body seriously, because it has dire consequences on our body system as we advance in age.
What is wrong with processed food?
Processed food takes care of wastages as experience in unprocessed food. Processed food are streamline with standards such as expiry dates, information on ingredients and who to approach if the need be (address) and other information as approved by authorizing authority.
Soy Formulas are said to be among the most dangerous infant body formula, what is the reason for this?
Soy formula is a plant source of protein, soy milk preparation is better done with processors that have the required facilities to destroy the inhibitory of Trypsin present and also sufficient quantity of suitable enzymic material to act on proteinaceous, carbohydrate and cellulose constituents without causing any substantially deleterious effect on other constituents after which the enzymic action should be stopped. From the afore-mentioned, it is obvious that extreme measure must be taken in the process. Breast milk is recommended even by the Federal Authority.
Why is the country finding it difficult to grow its food processing industry?
If we are desirous to grow our food processing industry, there will be the need to ban all importation of food items. Scarcity will teach us to properly pursue our needs. All other factors must be in place as well such as electric power, good road network, and other enabling facilities. That is why manpower training is very important at WUFAS AGRONet. We stand firm to support government effort in training of individuals, groups, and organization in Food Processing Technology.
And to pull Nigeria out of insufficiency in Food value chain – we need to pursue with aggressive in-depth knowledge, drastic action, concrete strategy starting with research and scholarly exposition followed by converting the youthfulness of the youth into adventurism in food production.
How healthy is the bottle water we buy?
From Food Technology point of view, portable water is deemed fit for drinking after it has passed through four (4) basic parameters of analysis viz: Physical appearances, (ii) Chemical (iii) Heavy metal/Trace Toxic (iv) Microbiological. Various standards as recommended by World Health Organization (WHO) must be complied with.
The issue of Vitamin C and Soft drink raised a lot of dust recently but it has died down without any concrete resolution from regulatory authorities, what is your take on the issue?
Vitamin C is ascorbic acid, the level of acidity in (mg per liter) drink is an issue of Food Safety Regulation as approved by World Health Organization, and the regulatory authority must have taken this up and with concerned bodies.
How would you rate the effort of Government in ensuring food sufficiency in the country?
In my opinion, the Federal/State and Local Government have started aggressive deployment of resources in agriculture, one only hopes that this tempo will be sustained. Most products are being exported right now. I will advocate that youthfulness should be converted into adventurism in agricultural productivity through empowerments. With Entrepreneurial/Empowerment consultants such as WUFAS AGRONet government can partner with us through our demonstrative seminars in food processing technology and industrial management principles such as Programming Modeling, Food Management System, Risk Assessment, and corporate policy, Water Treatment and other vital industrial issues. For instance, WUFAS AGRONet Partnered with Prison Fellowship of Nigeria to offer free training to Prison inmates in Lagos.
Mechanized farming is very essential. This will encourage less manpower on farm and available workforce in Food processing Technology. The standard for mechanized farming world-over is 300 tractors per 1000km of farm land. In Nigeria, it is less than 50 tractors per 1000km of farm land.
The population of West Africa is 320 million and it majority depends on imported items such as rice and sugar; with modern farming one can get a yield of say 8-10 tons per hectare and in Nigeria we have good soil and climate. Now is the best time to fully develop our agricultural sector. I am an advocate of total ban on imported items so as to be fully backward integrated.