I am Anietie Cosmas Akpan, 38, from Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. I am a holder of Diploma in Mathematics. My ambition has been to improve agriculture sector in my communities and country at large.
My first discovery was when I was 17. I constructed a palm-fruit-milling machine with local raw materials which was used by old women in my village to process palm oil. My passion has been how to help solve problems faced by our women and youths in our communities.
It’s a well-known fact that 80% of people in southern Nigeria are predominantly palm kernel nut (PKN) producers. Less than 2% of the producers know the economic value of palm kernel shells (PKS). The shells are abundantly wasted, yet nothing is done to enhance its production and supply to buyers.
The quality of palm kernel nuts in most parts of the region is rated the best in the world because of the soil texture in which palm trees are cultivated. However, the need for PKN and PKS in the area has been on the increase in recent days by local and international buyers.
Problems of Palm Kernel Production Southern Nigeria
It’s sad to note that 95% of PKN and PKS producers are still using stones to process the nuts. We call them ‘the stone age’ producers. The process of getting the nuts is very stressful. Only few people make 30 kg in a day.
The remaining 5% of producers are using mini-cracking machines with production ability of 500 kg/day. The machines can crack the palm kernel but needs human effort to separate the nuts from the shells—done by immersing both the shells and nuts in muddy water. This process is called ‘water wash’. Its major disadvantage is that it devalues the quality of the nuts and shells by increasing unwanted moisture content.
Despite abundant palm kernel in the region, there has been poor production of palm kernel nuts and shells to ever increasing buyers. It’s either the producers don’t have access to machines with higher production capacity or cannot afford them.
Solutions to Palm Kernel Production
After identifying the major problems faced by the palm kernel nuts and shells producers in the region, we have preferred a solution to ease the stress by fabricating a standard and economical palm kernel cracker and separator.
It has capacity to crack seven tonnes of palm kernels to generate five tonnes of nuts and three tonnes of shells in a day.
The PKN are stored for sales while the PKS are heaped at dump site for sale when a minimum of 1,000 tonnes is achieved.
The PKS is used as biomass for generating of electricity in Europe and Asia.
Advantages of Palm Kernel Cracker and Separator
- It is quite affordable
- It is easy to operate
- It has high production capacity
- It can serve many producers at the same time
- It doesn’t increase moisture content of nuts and shells
- It saves time
- It reduces high cost of living among producers
- It creates employment to women and youths.
Disadvantages of the Palm Kernel Cracker and Separator
- It is immobile
Cost Analysis of Production
Cost of machines and facilities N 550,000 (USD 2,750)
Cost of production N 200,000 (USD 1,000)
Cost of general operation N 100,000 (USD 500)
Cost of miscellaneous N 100,000 (USD 500)
Total cost N 950,000 (USD 4,750)
Comparing Our Palm Kernel Cracker and Separator with Others
The ‘stone age’ makes 30 kg generating N 720/day (USD 3.6/day). It takes eight years to generate 1,000 tonnes of palm kernel shells.
It takes mini-cracking machine users to make 500 kg to generate N 25,000/day (USD 125/day). It takes them two years to get 1,000 tonnes of the shells.
It will take our improved palm kernel cracker and separator to process seven metric tons of the palm kernel to generate five metric tons of the nuts and three metric tons of the shells.
Now, the five metric tons of nuts is sold at N 600,000 (USD 3,000). While three metric tons of the shell is sold at N 9,000 (USD 45).
It will take less than eight months to achieve 1,000 tonnes of PKS.
Finally, when our 1,000 metric tons of shells is reached, we will be making N 3,000 (USD 15) x 1,000 = N 3,000,000 (USD 15,000) if we supply to local buyers.
Then, N 12,000 (USD 60) x 1,000 = N 12,000,000 (USD 60,000) if we supply to international buyers.
Blogpost and picture submitted by Anietie Cosmas Akpan, (Nigeria): etido2020[at]gmail.com
The content, structure and grammar are at the discretion of the author only.
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