YAP proposal #176: Smoking kiln for fish processing (Ovie Newton Akpona, Nigeria)

Untitled8The Problem

Charity, a widowed mother of five, lives in Igbide Village—a rural fishing community which lacks basic social amenities.

Charity sells fish bought from the local fishermen in order to make ends meet for her family. She cannot send her children to school as the proceeds realized from her business is too meagre.

Most of the fishes she takes to the market for sale are not sold and end up getting spoilt due to a lack of an appropriate storage and processing system put in place.

In order not to go out of business, she resorts to the local way of drying her fish in order to preserve it and sell for a reasonable price.

However, and as good as this may seem, this local process involves the use of firewood sourced from cutting down of trees and a gauze placed directly on a cut-drum, which provides the platform for drying the fish.

This process is burdensome, environmentally unfriendly, and poses severe health hazards, as poisonous polycyclic substances emitted during the process settle on the fishes making it unfit for human consumption.

Charity and a host of other village women represent two-thirds of the community’s estimated 10,000-strong population who go through this painful, environmentally unfriendly process of cutting down trees to make firewood, and exposing themselves to direct heat daily to make ends meet.

Unbeknownst to them, this creates a hydra-headed monstrous condition that poses severe health hazards to consumers and damages our already fragile ecosystem.

The Solution—Project Eco-Dry!

Project Eco-Dry—a sustainable, replicable and environmentally-friendly approach—is being developed by Agrotize Integrated Systems as a means of providing succour to Charity and a host of other rural women around Nigeria and Africa, via the use of a solar-powered smoking kiln technology.

This technology utilizes equipment comprising four compartments: a smoking chamber, a fan for uniform distribution of the heat and smoke, a thermometer for temperature control, and a chimney to remove moisture, as well as a damper to filter smoke and reduce the content of fish carbon dioxide (CO2).

The entire machine is powered by a solar panel and has the merit of cooking and smoking in four hours, compared to as least four days for traditional smoking kiln. It also has a production capacity of about 60 medium sized fishes.

This results in a less-burdensome processing experience while making sure that the end product conforms to international carbon and moisture standards required to break into the international smoked-fish export market.

It’s discernible that a pack of 500 grammes of smoked catfish bought from Nigeria at USD 12.50, sells for between USD 15 and USD 20 in the international market, making it what analysts have called a potentially money-making business.

According to a source: A study sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, shows that the quantity of dried and smoked catfish, tilapia and other types of fish exported from West Africa to the United Kingdom is estimated at over 500 tonnes per year, with a retail value of nearly USD 20 million.

‘Nigeria alone exports about 5 tonnes of smoked fish per month (via airfreight). Other major exporting countries are Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Senegal and Cameroon. However, with stricter regulations on food imported into the US and Europe, Africans are finding it difficult to exploit the million-dollar foreign market for smoked and dried fish…’

Put succinctly, Project Eco-Dry utilizes an environmentally friendly and sustainable approach to help provide financial empowerment to rural women, to prepare them for the international market as well as the highbrow domestic market.

These rural women eventually develop their processing capability, thus enabling them to generate revenue from the export of the finished products or having it on the shelves of favourite retail outlets, while keeping the environment safe.

Untitled9What’s done so far!

We have identified our sample community in Delta State, Nigeria, conducted a feasibility study of the project, and trained the first batch of 100 women in business management and entrepreneurship.

Furthermore, we have organized the trained rural women into groups under an umbrella cooperative that has already been registered for this purpose: iFeed Africa Multipurpose Cooperative Society.

This makes it easier for them to fulfil export quantity requirements while providing a platform to access grants, loans, and additional funds to build their businesses.

It is important to note that up to 40 % of smoked fish exported from Africa is detained, returned or destroyed at US and European ports due to simple mistakes such as improper packaging and labelling, inadequate compliance with paperwork, insect infestation and mould growth. Thus, we have also mapped out a branded packaging design for filleted and whole smoked fish.

The packages will have barcodes that enhance competitiveness and protection while establishing corporate identity in the market.

What we need now (Budget)!

  1. Solar-powered smoking kiln (1 pc)             USD 2,000
  2. Branded Packaging Equipment with barcode USD 1,000
  3. Insurance, legal fees and paperwork USD 1,000
  4. Administration and logistics                         USD 500
  5. Miscellaneous expenses                         USD 300

            Total                                                               USD 5,000

Timeframe

  • Securing equipment and installation (two weeks after disbursement of grant)
  • Training of machine operators—rural women (one week)
  • Onset of paperwork for export (four weeks)
  • Use of the solar-powered smoking kiln
  • Export of smoked dried fish.

How we measure success (Success Indicators)

Success will be measured by the number of rural women’s groups that can access the technology, their net income arising from direct sales in the highbrow domestic market and the international export market, the rate of successful transactions made, their new spending lifestyle, and the condition of their dependents.

Of course, this is not written in stone as the success indicators may be modified or new ones added as deemed fit along the line or as suggested by interested contributors.

Any plans for sustainability?

Yes, we do have plans for sustainability. Revenue will be generated from the use of the machine at an affordable rate. Subsidized payments will be made by the rural women’s groups to provide for maintenance of the machine and of course employment of trained operators sourced from the rural women groups.

Ovie Newton Akpona is a 28-year-old agripreneur, climate change leader, and Project Coordinator for Agrotize Integrated Systems—an agri-start-up. He has a zeal for providing twenty-first century solutions to liberate smallscale farmers from the shackles of poverty.

He has over five-years’ experience working in the spheres of information and communications technology, agriculture, and most recently was the Project Coordinator of the Nigerian Chapter of United Nations Global Energy Initiative SSEA.

Ovie hails from Delta State, Nigeria and holds a BSc in genetics and biotechnology, is associate member of the British Computer Society, the Genetics Society of Nigeria, and Biotechnology Society of Nigeria.

 

Blogpost and picture submitted by Ovie Newton Akpona (Nigeria): agrotizeintegratedsystems[at]gmail.com

Illustrations courtesy of Agrotize Integrated Systems and WAAPP/NIOMR

The content, structure and grammar are at the discretion of the author only.

 

This post is published as proposal #176 of “YAP” – our “Youth Agripreneur Project”.

The first selection of the winners will be based on the number of comments, likes and views each proposal gets.

As a reader, you can support this speaker’s entry:

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Have a look at the other “YAP” proposals too!


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“YAP” is part of the #GCARD3 process, the third Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development.


265 thoughts on “YAP proposal #176: Smoking kiln for fish processing (Ovie Newton Akpona, Nigeria)

  1. Wow! This would really be perfect. Project Eco- Dry is just wat we nid to salvage d people in the rural communities. Bt I ask What’s the possibility of reaching out to at least 2/3 of the rural communities in the south regionI can’t go into asking u details bt pls b strong

  2. Wouldn’t be happy, if it was my mum that had to risk it all including her health to put food on the table. Thanks for this opportunity.

    1. Yes Jennifer and thanks for stopping by. Indeed, you’re quite right and that’s the more reason why we must give them a voice.

  3. Thank you Abigail for your question. Although, we are working at the moment wit a sample community so as to gain more lessons and sharpen our approaches as we expand, we are also in the process of identifying all the rural communities within our geographical space including the best ways to reach them.

    To answer ur question: The possibility of reaching out to at least 2/3 of rural women in the southern region is huge. We will work with the community leaders, women groups, local NGO’s, Faith-based organizations to achieve that. Our approach is simple, scalable and reproducible.

    Once they are trained, a cooperative group is also setup for them to enable them access more support while we provide oversight.

  4. I would like to congratulate Mr. Ovie Newton Akpona for how he is implementing his expertise to help families of his country with a system that is eco-friendly. His vision is to help solve the problem of food /unemployment/poverty of African countries and make good use of the latest technological advances. This project is feasible and if it is realized, it will have a positive impact on lives of many African families. Mr. Ovie Newton Akpona’s project should be supported for his insight that will make a difference in lives of people.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words Sarvesh Patpur. Be sure to get updates as we progress with the Project.

  5. Great project, creative mind, the traditional method used to ensure safety of our food products is one that has lingered for years without experiencing such attention, while medical and environmental research condemn this process, its still the best option for our locals, due to monopoly of this means. The challenge here is this, How do we intend to enlighten this women to accept this innovation within the shortest possible period? Won’t perspectives be an issue to contend with in the marketing of this innovation? Guess no health hazard or allergy have been reported from eco dry processed fishes? whether reported or not create parameters that will be evidence based to show the safety of this products

  6. Thanks Newton O., for the sustainable idea. Funding will help to build skills and expertise in Nigeria on the above technology, allowing access to meeting the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable people.

  7. Thank you Opuah Abeikwen for your contributions. Indeed there are perspectives, however the reality of the advantages of the technology in terms of time (4hrs against 4days), stress, health and access to markets is our vintage point.

    In the sample community we chose, we have already spoken to the women (as almost all of them were interested) n trained 100 of them (1st batch) on Business Management and Entrepreneurship. They are eager to start using this technology especially as it provides an opportunity for them to sell all their fishes thus increasing their turn over and subsequently their income.

    Concerning your question on hazard or allergy, It does not possess any hazard or allergy, rather it helps solve the problem of food poisoning (as polycyclic substances deposited on the fishes is usually associated wit the traditional method). It also helps the environment because it stops them from cutting down trees for firewood in the old method and relies on the use of solar power which is free and abundant here. Also, technically, the fishes will have a better taste and last longer as we partnered wit the Nigerian Institute of Fisheries Research to help sharpen their processing skills in line wit internationally accepted standards.

    Lastly, most of the parameters (time, health, stress, and cost) we are using are evidence-based as they will b shown in practical terms the differences between the traditional method and the eco-sustainable one.

  8. Mr Newton..I love this..its gr8, its feasible, its sustainable, its innovative and most importatntly its needed now

    1. Thank you Odo Emmanuel for stopping by with words of encouragement. Be sure to get updates as we progress.

  9. I am astounded by this vivid and feasible proposal which is quite propitious to our current economic realities not only in Nigeria but Africa as a whole. This is an innovative way of thinking that will totally reposition the African Continent. I must congratulate Mr. Ovie. You really poured your soul into this one. All that’s left is implementation.

    1. @Chimauche! Thank you for your kind words. Together, we can make a difference. Be sure to get updates as we begin implementation when selected.

    1. Thanks for stopping by TJ. Of course, we had the sustainable development goals in focus for this project. Many thanks once again.

  10. As a major source of protein and income in the country, i believe this project will go far in helping not just d economical but also the health sector in Nigeria. I’m in support of dis full trottle!

    1. Thank you for the different light that you have put via ur comments. Your support is very much appreciated as all hands will b needed in needful capacities as we scale up to cover the country in due course. Once again, many thanks.

    1. Thank you Ayodele. Indeed, the south needs this as well as other rural fishing communities spread over the country n the entire continent.

    1. Of course there are! We intend to cover all the rural communities in all regions of Nigeria and subsequently Africa. We will work wit local NGOs in those regions to implement the project to suit their unique environments.

    1. Thank you Bulky! Its our prayers that we make the final stage and subsequently get the funding the project deserves. Thanks for stopping by.

  11. This project is feasible and if implemented will go a long way in helping to fight climate change and most importantly help the women a long way to alleviate their problem. However, my question is: What are the avenues of scaling up this project? Keep it up once again bro.

    1. Thank you Ikliman. The avenues of scaling this project is immense. Firstly, when we are done wit the sample community, we will reach out to other rural women in the southern region and then progress to other regions.. We will work with the community leaders, women groups, local NGO’s, Faith-based organizations to achieve that. Our approach is simple, scalable and reproducible.

    1. Thank you sir Matt Ade. I am so pleased to have you stop by. Be sure to get updates as we progress, if selected.

  12. Talking about indigenous solutions to local problems, this project ranks high. I hope you follow through the project to its logical conclusion. Well done.

    1. Thank you Dr. Solomon for stopping by. We sure will follow it up to its logical conclusion. If u have any suggestions or advice that you feel may be useful to us, our hands are wide open. Many thanks.

  13. This is perhaps one of the most revolutionary idea for rural women and their empowerment! All the best!

  14. This is amazing. I can totally see many rural women being benefitted by it even in my country Bangladesh. Good going!

    1. @Mustabeen, thank you for stopping by. In fact, we are willing to work with local NGO’s who have good working knowledge and experience in their respective terrains and people in different continents to see this benefit the rural communities involved. Although, we are working wit a sample community in Nigeria, the technology and process is scalable and reproducible anywhere. If you wish to work with us in implementing in your country or know of a local NGO that can, feel free to let us know. Together, we can make the world a better place.

    1. Thank you for the prayers Immadeddine. We sincerely hope we do get this funding to pursue our objectives.

  15. This’s reaaly an effetive project for women brightside.Best wishes to Newton for his wonderful initiative and hope that it will work efficiently.

    1. Thank you Srabonti for stopping by. Women deserve to b heard, especially the rural ones. B sure to get updated as we progress.

  16. Mr ovie, this is a really an interesting project you embarking on, its inloves Eco-invention to solve agro processing challenges,enhance agroprenurship, while seeking environmental friendly ways to do so, i must congratulate you because its really a multifacted project cutting across, scientific, socio-economic demographics . Eco-dry project will not only put more money in the pockets of the local fish processors quickly, but also change the mindset of these women,eco-wise. I see them make environmental change agents to the whole community. This is where i will like to intoduce eco-education in schools and social clubs as part of my solution to climate change, as an passionate environmentalist It is my beleieve that as more young people are educated about they environment they will be concious of it and seek more ways to protect it for themselves and the future generations. Congrats on this great idea and i hope we work together to make our globe a better place and more environmentally friendly.

    1. @Etta agbo, ur elucidation of the project helps bring more light on the uniqueness of the project in dealing wit core environmental, entrepreneurship and socioeconomic issues.We are eager to work wit you on education especially if it can be integrated into the project to enhance sustainability. Please contact us directly via email so we can continue discussions in this regard.

  17. This is indeed a welcoming empowerment for our Nigerian and African Women as a whole, its yours Bro, go get it and let our Mothers be empowered Mr Ovie Akpona

    1. Thank you Agom for your kind words and motivational stance. Be sure to get updates as we empower the women and achieve our complete set of objectives.

  18. Thumbs-up to you Newton. Project eco-dry is another innovative way of thinking outside the box. To save our planet we need more of these. Environmentally friendly consciousness have to be inculcated in our various communities if we must save the earth.

    1. That’s true Jimmy! It has to be inculcated in the very fabric of our communities. We will work towards expanding the frontiers of our impact to make this possible.

  19. This is beautiful Mr. Akpona. Hope persons living with disabilities (PWDs) who are into fish farming will be integrated into this project at its implementation. #Inclusiveness #EconomicEmpowermentforAll

    1. @Iydea….That is a nice point you are bringing to the table. Although coincidentally, 5 of the Women already trained are PWDs. However, I think we will have to make a conscious effort in making sure that a required percentage of beneficiaries is dedicated to them in future selections. Thanks a bunch.

  20. I believe that helping women in a rural area by building a sustainable project like this would be a great move. It will empower them and help them to escape from the poverty.

    Good luck!

  21. I’m fully in support of this initiative Ovie. Let’s join our hands together to empower rural women in Nigeria. Well done bro!!!

    1. Yes Iydea, Combining efforts in a synergistic manner is key to making huge impacts. Let us know how best you think we can incorporate the PWD’s, we are sure to work to work with you to see its full realization in future selections.

    1. Thank you Ekerette for stopping by with kind words and best wishes. Be sure to get updates as we progress when selected.

    1. Thank you Dipanjana for stopping by. We will not let you down as we will strive to meet our objectives.

  22. The project is environmentally friendly, sustainable and empowering rural women. Actually I would be very interested if the same concept could be tweaked to work for rural women in other countries like Bangladesh where fishing is such a huge part of rural life. Something to think about!! Thanku Ovie! I wish you all the best for the project!!!!

    1. @Antara, thank you for stopping by. As said earlier, we are willing to work with local NGO’s who have good working knowledge and experience in their respective terrains and people in different continents to see this benefit the rural communities involved. Although, we are working wit a sample community in Nigeria, the technology and process is scalable and reproducible anywhere. If you wish to work with us in implementing in your country or know of a local NGO that can, feel free to let us know. Together, we can make the world a better place.

  23. A very great initiative Newton. I am sure the rural women in the affected communities will be forever grateful. keep it up.

  24. A sustainable initiative wit high revenue earning potentials for women. This is women empowerment in action. Well done bro.

    1. Thank you for stopping by Tolu. I am sincerely amazed. I wish you success with your project too. Have a great day.

  25. Full respect to your determination and commitment to improve the lives of the women in your community. I remember how passionate you were about this initiative. Wish you fulfill your dream Ovie.

    1. Thank you Mr. Fadi for taking time to stop by despite your very busy schedule to give us words of encouragement☺. Be sure to get updates as we progress along.

  26. This has much to also do with health as fishes are very much consumed rather than meat because it is quite cheaper. Providing a means to preserve fishes in a safer manner than usual is commendable. I wish you all the best with this project.

    1. Thank you for the different light you have put by way of elucidation of the project. Be sure to get updates as we progress along.

  27. I like this project because it affects vulnerable people thus providing them with knowledge and skills to increase their earning potentials while treading the path of sustainability. You rock!

  28. World is a better place because people like you still exist in this world. Such a wonderful initiative, this is will impact the people life who needs us the most. Wishing you all the success of your wonderful initiative 🙂

    1. @Wahid…I agree with you that these people need us the most and of course they have us this time around. Thanks for stopping by.

  29. This project is timely especially with the recent climate change discussions cum actions taking place all over the world. Localising climate change mitigation actions is key to sustainable development. Dr. Rhoda – National Biotechnology Development Agency

  30. Nice initiative. It would be good if you also report the project when completed in an academic journal to benefit the globe. More power to your elbow.

  31. Keep it up Ovie. I can see the power in this project to pull these rural women from the shackles of poverty.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Arch. Ope. Indeed, the project possesses a good socioeconomic advantage. I will update you as we roll on.

  32. I love this project. My mum is involved in this business but in the west – Lagos State. How do you plan on reaching people in the west?

    1. Thank you Anyakor for that revealing comment. We have been receiving calls recently to initiate this project in the west especially as this online commenting started here. I have begun talks with my project execution team, and I am thinking we will come over sooner than we had thought. However, we will finish with our sample community already chosen and then work towards the identification and selection of local NGOs in those regions especially the west, to implement the project to suit their unique environments. I hope this helps.

  33. Judging from the passion I always see in you in seeing things through, I believe this to be a successful project. – Prof. Emenike (Univ. of Calabar)

    1. Thank you My amiable Prof. Emenike for the kind words sir. We won’t let you down and be sure to get updates as we get by.

  34. Congratulations on the successful actualization of this project. I am sure you will be funded for this great initiative.

    1. Thank you Dr. Mustapha. Indeed, this is capable of transforming the continent if appropriately managed.

  35. An innovative way of applying indigenous solutions to local problems that will change Africa. I wish you success with this.

    1. Dr. Nura. I am so grateful for stopping by despite your busy schedule and your insightful comment. We will update you as we get by in this.

  36. This is a very noble cause with environmental sustainability potentials. I am hoping that community leaders take a cue from this.

    1. Thank you Usman. As we expand this project in due course, more hands will be needed. Please stay in touch.

  37. Leadership is an art and science of skillfully managing people and resources. I have always known you as a good leader capable of deploying resources to achieve noble objectives. I wish you success. Amen.

  38. This is an initiative that supports the global call for women empowerment and gender equality. Its utilization of science in a sustainable manner is stellar. I hope it gets the required funding.

    1. Thanks for the additional illumination Prof. I am highly optimistic we will get funding for this project.

    1. Awww…..Mr. Fahad thanks for the kind words. I think I like that title (lol), although I know I must comtinue to work hard with more projects to benefit the rural community.

    1. Thank you Sukanya for stopping by. Women deserve to be consciously given a voice, not to talk of the much greater impact they can create if supported consciously.

  39. Very good innovation that will help our people. Kudos to Mr. Ovie Akpona. Let the good work continue, eco-friendly innovations must be supported. Hope the grant comes on time…..welldone bro.

  40. Using technological and natural resource to help the poor! Now that is brilliant! The idea sounds even better when you consider that the cost is not really high! Good luck with it!

    1. You are very right Diprua. Its a low-cost scientific, natural, healthy, eco-sustainable and entrepreneuristic approach to helping the vulnerable groups.

  41. These days it is difficult to see projects that are carefully designed to benefit vulnerable people like this one. I am extremely in support of this project.

    1. Thank you Julius Agwu. To have a popular comedian and actor in Nollywood support this project is awesome. Indeed, we will require more from you during the expansion of the project in terms of public image and canvassing for more acceptance.

  42. Women empowerment, sustainability, poverty reduction and health consciousness all combined in one project. Go get the fund. It’s yours for asking.

  43. I hope that you have in mind expansion into other regions in Nigeria. My community in Lagos suffers from these too.

  44. It seems very feasible as not massive investment required. Only technology can make women empowerment stronger specifically in African region. Good going and keep it up my friend Ovie.

  45. This is a well thought out project that will b beneficial to all of us. Well done newton. I pray u get the funding. Best wishes.

  46. If properly implemented, Project EcoDry would have positive impacts on the economy and the environment. Well done .

  47. This is very well planned out and innovative, not to mention that it’s going to be a major helping hand to the women! I wish you all the best and I pray you get your funding because this project will really help make a difference. Wishing all the best to the team! You have my support!

  48. A very good initiative, I would suggest to take part in the startup funding competitions from around the world. This could be one of best ways to lure in investors. It seems to have a lot of potential and I hope it reaches where you want it to. I wish you luck and success.

    1. Thank you Muazzam for that idea. We will dedicate ourselves to identifying other startup funding competitions that we can enrol in when considering the expansion of the project. However, this will probably be when we are almost done with the sample community and have requisite proof of its workability. Once again many thanks.

  49. This project is eco-sustainable and advocates for vulnerable women. I like this approach. Congrats.

    1. Thank you Mrs Comfort. Indeed, it is eco-sustainable and a tool for lifting vulnerable women from the bondage of poverty.

    1. Thank you Salehin for stopping by with kind words. Be sure to get updates as the project progresses.

  50. In Africa proverb, we say: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ We want to go far. We want to do it with you.”Good luck, go ahead Ovie . We all with you to succeed your invaluable project.

    1. Thank you Adam Babekir. There are indeed opportunities for synergy as the project progresses to different regions.

  51. By producing a viable and sustainable solution to the problem of preserving fish for sale, it is something I can support. These women are often alone and need this technology to support their families and economy.

  52. This is a sure solution to the pollution of our environment often caused by wood burning. Nice Idea Mr Newton.

    1. Thanks Ovat for that light. Wood burning indeed reduces our capacity to mitigate against climate change, the single most important issue that affects all of us on planet earth. Be sure to get updates as we progress. Gracias.

  53. This is very good initiative. World needs sustainable and environment friendly work.
    Good luck and hope the team get each desired milestones.

    1. Thank you Bashudev Adhikari for stopping by. We will update you as we progress. Not to forget, PWD’s are not left out.

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