Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc (FMN) has donated the sum of N60million towards the setting up of Flour Mills Food Research Centre at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.


The Research Centre which is a partnership between FMN and the University of Ibadan as part of its corporate social responsibility thrust which has a strong focus on education, research and skills development, environmental sustainability, health and welfare, infrastructural development and security.


The first installment of N30million was provided during the flag off ceremony of the centre in March 2013. The second tranche of N30million was handed over during a recent courtesy visit to FMN’s Corporate headquarters. The visitors from the ivory tower included Professor Idowu Olayinka, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academics); Professor Charles Aworh, Professor of Food Technology and Dr. Rahman Akinoso, Acting Head of the Department of Food Technology of University of Ibadan.


The Group Managing Director, Mr. Paul Gbededo, who received the delegation along with Alhaji Olalekan Saliu, the Company Secretary/Director, gave a presentation on the rapid growth, diversification, and transformation within the company. The FMN Group now comprises 24 corporate entities in three divisions: the Food, Agro-Allied, and Logistics/Support Divisions.


He stated that the Food and Agro-Allied divisions account for 95% of total sales and that FMN was pursuing an aggressive investment plan in agro-allied initiatives, cultivating cassava, sugar cane, oil palm, rice, soya beans and maize in commercial scale in different parts of the country.


He talked about FMN’s 10,000-hectare Kaboji Farm in Niger State where 4,500 hectares have been dedicated to maize, 200 hectares to cassava and 1,500 hectares of soya cultivation.  At Sunti in Niger State, the Group’s sugarcane estate (under centre pivot irrigation) will be producing more than 100,000 tonnes of sugar by 2017.  This farm supplies raw materials to FMN’s sugar refinery which is the second-largest sugar refinery in Nigeria. Also in Sunti, 5,000 hectares of rice fields are being cultivated. Other agricultural projects are also springing up in other parts of the country including Oyo, Kwara and Edo States.


This backward integration policy, he stressed, is to strengthen the Group’s Food business and to align with the Federal Government’s Agricultural Transformation Action Plan. He also mentioned the huge investment in edible oil processing and animal feeds with its plant in Ibadan which is the largest in the country.  He also said that between 2013 and 2018, over N200 million has been planned for investment to boost its Agro-Allied business.


Responding, Professor Charles Aworh, Professor of Food Technology, commended the efforts of the Group, especially in strengthening the weak industry-academic linkage in Nigeria, and promoting greater collaboration between FMN and the University of Ibadan.  He called for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for greater collaboration whereby students could be exposed to practical aspects of Food Technology through short-term industrial attachments where they will learn about new processes and developments.


Receiving the cheque on behalf of the University of Ibadan, Professor Charles Aworh promised that the money would be applied appropriately to the objectives it was intended for.


The Centre will be equipped with state of the art facilities and would be available to researchers and students from all over Nigeria.  It will assist in determining the shelf life of products, reduce post-harvest food losses and food wastage, promote food sufficiency in Nigeria and reduce food importation.