In the realm of innovation, stories often emerge from collaboration and ingenuity. Within the heart of this narrative lies TETFAIR, a collaborative initiative of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) and Innov8 Hub. From inception, TETFAIR has aimed to foster a dynamic environment where the Government, Academia and Industry could converge to tackle societal challenges and offer the possibility for enterprise. The outcome? A plethora of inspiring stories that not only spotlight innovation in Nigeria, but also illuminate the path toward sustainable growth.
In the journey from farm-fresh agricultural produce to successful ventures, food processing has emerged as a significant challenge. Unfortunately, the existing systems within the agricultural value chain often fall short in addressing this crucial aspect. This gap becomes particularly evident in the case of Nigeria, as highlighted by Businessday.ng, a prominent business and financial news outlet. Their reports reveal that the country faces a staggering 60% annual post-harvest loss in tomato production alone, resulting in a substantial shortfall of 1.4 million metric tons against a demand of 2.2 million metric tons. Such a glaring disparity has not only disrupted the tomato agricultural value chain but has also raised concerns about overall productivity. The need of the hour is to explore innovative initiatives and novel methods of food preservation and processing that can effectively tackle this challenge head-on.
TETFAIR STORIES SO FAR: TEAM 6
Addressing this challenge is TEAM 6 at TETFAIR, a group committed to reshaping the landscape of food processing. Their groundbreaking solution comes in the form of a Vacuum-Assisted Tomato Dryer, a concept that not only aids in tomato processing and preservation but has also unveiled the potential for a new entrepreneurial venture through its byproducts – Tomato Flakes and Tomato Powder.
The driving force behind this innovation is a team of accomplished academics hailing from the Federal University of Technology, Owerri. Dr. Uloma Onyeka, Chukwuemeka Chinweze, and Dr. Ihebuzo Peter-Ikechukwu, visionary experts in the fields of food technology and commercial agricultural fabrication, lead a team that is on the brink of revolutionizing food processing in Nigeria with the Vacuum-Assisted Tomato Dryer.
The journey through various phases of TETFAIR has been transformative for TEAM 6. They have successfully developed their initial prototype and, with the guidance of industry experts, have elevated their dryer’s capabilities to new heights. At the ongoing Bootcamp, the team is actively engaged in refining pragmatic steps that will ultimately culminate in the creation of the final machine.
TETFAIR STORIES SO FAR: Market Validation
However, no journey is without its challenges. For TEAM 6, the validation of their design emerged as a pivotal hurdle, necessitating real-time adjustments. Undaunted by setbacks, the team is determined to emerge triumphant from the third Bootcamp. Their mission entails crafting a comprehensive solution to address tomato post-harvest losses, optimizing the design, constructing and rigorously testing their advanced prototype, and, notably, extending the machine’s capabilities to process a diverse array of vegetables. This achievement holds the promise of not only curbing losses in the tomato supply chain but also acting as a springboard for the creation of a host of other innovative products.
TETFAIR STORIES SO FAR: Conclusion
The story of TEAM 6 at TETFAIR exemplifies the power of innovation and collaboration in addressing critical challenges within the agricultural sector. As they continue to refine their Vacuum-Assisted Tomato Dryer and explore new avenues, the potential impact on food processing in Nigeria is profound. Through determined efforts and cutting-edge solutions, the journey from farm to table is set to become more efficient, sustainable, and profitable for all stakeholders involved.