Stories by Charles Nwaoguji
Nigeria could generate over $8 billion from enzymes for industrial use, if government would create enabling environment to boost the sector, the President of Association of Industrial Microbiologists of Nigeria (AIMN), Dr. Joy Ehiwuogu-Onyibe, has said.
Ehiwuogu-Onyibe, who stated this at the 2017 AIMN Conference and Annual Symposium, held recently in Lagos, said Nigeria imports all enzymes needed for industrial processes, adding that there is no local manufacturing industry that produces any enzyme for industrial use.
She said Nigeria can become a net exporter of enzymes in the world because of its natural resources available in the country. She noted that it was projected that in 2016 global fermented foods/ingredients market will be over $600 billion, but that Nigeria remains an insignificant player in fermentation industry sector despite raw materials’ availability and favourable environmental conditions.
Ehiwuogu-Onyibe stressed that Nigeria’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can take advantage of this huge amount in the sector, especially in the face of current paid job scarcity, to venture into small and medium scale bio-based productions.
She urged government to take full advantage of industrial biotechnology, adding that reaping its economic multiplier effect requires full support of government, vibrant research and development (R & D), strategic manpower development, active participation of industries, encouragement and incentive on investments in industrial biotechnology.
The president of AIMN, however, advised on practical steps the government can take to ensure genuine developments of raw materials that will boost industrialisation.
“We have seen that Nigeria is blessed with many agro-based raw materials. There are at least 2,000 agro raw materials that can be grown commercially in Nigeria. Each of these can support a cluster of industries at the SME level involved in production, handling, processing, marketing and storage. These can create wealth,” she said.
Also speaking at the event, the Managing Director of BMS International Resource Ltd. said that as a country, Nigeria is highly deficient in infrastructure and largely over dependent on oil revenue, noting that industrial biotechnology may just be the answer for many of these insufficiencies.
This explains why the private sector is moving in leaps and bounds and is succeeding where governments have failed because government lacks the capacity to drive the use and penetration of industrial technology . if the Federal government could handle things expertly , the power deficit would have long been fixed . A national agricultural policy should be operational regarding use of biotechnological input in agriculture to ensure that we see improved yields, long-lasting , disease resistant and easy –to- preserve agro-based products.. the effort will also make it easy for processing companies to have the best pick of fruits to process for local and export markets.
He said that Nigeria is position to produce many biotechnological products at competitive prices. In fact, he said some organizations in the country are already exploiting the opportunities in biotechnical agent such as microorganism , plant cells, animal cells and their products to produce metabolites, which include enzymes, amino acids, pharmaceuticals, functional proteins, food and beverages, organic acids, polymers, food additive such as colourants, taste enhancers, anti-freeze and other preservative.