In a first-of-its-kind enterprise in Nigeria, a large-scale flour mill has come up with processed sorghum flour with a shelf life as high as 6 months. Typically, sorghum flour has a short shelf life of less than 3 months. This innovative product is opening new markets, providing jobs to 40,000 people involved in the value chain and freeing up the time of women as processing sorghum flour manually using traditional methods takes 80 minutes.
This has been achieved thanks to a collaboration with ICRISAT scientists identifying the best sorghum varieties for processing and the flour mill perfecting their processing practices to maximize shelf life. It all started in 2016, when Dr Hakeem Ajeigbe, ICRISAT Country Representative, Nigeria, met in his office Mr Alhaji Sani Umar, Deputy Managing Director, Northern Nigeria Flour Mills (NNFM) plc and Mr Sadiq Usman, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Agro-allied, Flour Mills of Nigeria plc. “I showed them sorghum flour which encouraged them to go into sorghum processing. We discussed sorghum cultivation practices and the crop’s higher nutritional value compared to cereals like maize and wheat. I gave them nine varieties of sorghum to test the milling quality. This resulted in the selection of SAMSORG 17 – the generic yellow sorghum (Kaura),” recalls Dr Ajeigbe.
The sorghum flour released in Nigerian markets goes by the brand name ‘Dawavita’. It is high in fiber and cooks in 15 minutes. Great news indeed for consumers, especially the women for whom the shelf life of the flour and cooking time determine their choices and decisions on consumption. Like the majority of consumers, Ms Hafsat Ibrahim, extension agent with the State Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) and a consumer from Kano believes that, “it has greatly reduced the difficulties in processing sorghum for meals. In addition, women are able to save time and use it for other domestic activities”.
This innovation is the result of a long-standing collaboration between ICRISAT and NNFM through an innovation platform. NNFM is the leading processor of whole grain staple cereals, providing convenient, nutritive and tasty food at very affordable prices to families in northern Nigeria.
The ‘Dawavita’ mill with an installed capacity of 100,000 metric tons per year is a good example of how a company’s strategic investment to create quality jobs and strengthen the economic power of rural areas can be a game changer. With up to 40,000 people involved (farmers, workers, logistics, traders, inputs, research and extension service providers, etc.) the ‘Dawavita’’ mill offers several opportunities that can be exploited by sorghum producers and urban families. “In this regard, the active collaboration between ICRISAT and NNFM, as the main up-taker in the value chain, will be enhanced by the provision of seeds of early maturity Kaura types of sorghum varieties,” said Dr Ignatius Angarawai, ICRISAT Sorghum breeder in Kano, Nigeria.
“The guarantee of high quality flour was the result of activities carried out previously under the project – Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement (HOPE II), and now the Accelerated Varietal Improvement and Seed Delivery of Legumes and Cereals in Africa (AVISA), and the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Program Phase-1 (ATASP-1) in Nigeria.
The activities included a sustainable seed roadmap with strong Innovative Platforms, appropriate product development and profiling, training in Good Agricultural Practices on seed production for seed companies, and demonstration of improved technologies with processors and aggregators,” explained Dr Angarawai Ignatius.
More than 300 participants attended the launch of ‘Dawavita’ sorghum flour on 27 August at Bristol Palace Hotel in Kano, Borno State. The women participants in particular were pleased with this new product, a brilliant innovation made possible by ICRISAT and its partners in Nigeria.
About the author
Moussa Magassa is a Communication Assistant in ICRISAT’s West and Central Africa Program in Mali.