Africa has the challenge of tackling increased poverty and a lack of food security. Large lower-income groups have the unfulfilled need of an affordable food product that is highly nutritious and long-lasting to support not only child development, but also adults in need of nutritious food.
This problem can be alleviated and made into a commercially viable business by supplying lower LSM groups with a locally-produced, long-lasting and highly nutritious snack or instant porridge using extrusion.
Extrusion is an agro-processing technique that is used to produce pre-cooked or ready-to-eat products made from mainly agricultural grains and pulses. The technology forms the heart of the integrated value chain from production of agricultural products by farmers, through agro-processing with extrusion, to finished beneficiated pre-cooked or ready-to-eat products for the consumer markets.
The flexibility and wide range of applications of extrusion in producing foods makes the technology ideal for producers to add value to raw materials or otherwise wasted materials. Extrusion is particularly suitable for Africa, as it is relatively inexpensive, energy-efficient and it produces long-lasting food. It is also environmentally friendly, as it produces minimal waste products. Extrusion can be applied in different environments and can process a variety of unique products by using one machine.
The potential of using extrusion to add value to agricultural raw materials is largely untapped in Africa, but the demand for ready-to-eat, stable and nutritious foods exists and is growing. This is mainly due to the short preparation time, ease of consumption, new tastes and nutritious content of these extruded foods.
A recent survey has identified 31 untapped areas in South Africa that can be successfully targeted with a high-protein snack or porridge by means of a local snack/porridge extrusion plant. This opportunity shows positive prospects of yielding more than 41% return on investment within 10 years. Similar opportunities also exist in the rest of Africa.
Extrusion plants can be set up close to existing maize and soy farms or mills. This holds high worth for the local farms to add immense value to their crops and increase margins on their produce. Smaller farms in local areas can collect their crops and process it in one central extrusion plant. Commercially-sized farms or mills can also benefit greatly by adding an extrusion plant to their facilities.
CFAM Technologies, located in Potchefstroom, South Africa, has been locally developing and building twin-screw extruders and plant equipment since 2007, which are able to process difficult-to-handle high-in-protein products with ease. Each product is fully automated, and comes with local maintenance and support.