The federal government of Nigeria has prioritised agricultural development over the last five years under its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan. This has led to an increase in the cultivation of crops. However, Timi Oke, co-founder of AgroEknor, believes it has resulted in a surge in the volume of agro-waste in the country.
AgroEknor is a Nigerian trading company that exports hibiscus products to Europe, the US and other countries.
This increase in agro-waste is evident countrywide but there are few places where it can be seen as clearly as in the agricultural markets, says Oke.
The Dawanau grain market in Kano State is a case in point.
“The market was originally established to serve as a major source of grains for the state and a storage centre for all types of farm produce,” Oke explains. “It has grown to international status and now supplies all types of grains and other cash crops not only to other parts of Nigeria but also to several West Africa countries. Owing to this increased level of trade, the market has become a hot zone of agricultural waste because of the lack of appropriate storage infrastructures.”
According to Oke, an opportunity exists to target Dawanau, with its high concentration of agro-waste, for the generation of electricity and to recover any material that can be resold.
“The market has unique potential to become an integral part of energy infrastructure in Nigeria; a country that has deeply rooted energy and electricity challenges. In Africa, waste-to-energy/bioconversion/biogas can provide sustainable, low-cost electricity generation.”
He adds that while the Nigerian government and other companies have put programmes in place to manage agricultural biomass waste, there are still major gaps.
“This presents a chance for entrepreneurs to maximise the opportunity to divert most of the waste for material and energy recovery. This would reduce the cost of waste disposal and would generate revenue from the sale of the recovered materials and energy,” says Oke.