The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) has awarded six young inventors of various agro-processing machines in Kwara.
SMEDAN presented the awards to the winners on Friday in Ilorin at the end of a talent hunt, tagged: “Light manufacturing equipment for agro-processing”.
The six lucky investors went home with cash prizes ranging from N200,000 to N1.5 million.
The Director-General of the agency, Dr Rada Umar Dikko, said the programme was organised by SMEDAN to encourage young Nigerians to venture into agro- and allied businesses.
Represented by SMEDAN’s Manager in Kwara, Mrs Zainab AbdulMalik, he presented prizes to the winners and certificates to all the 35 participants.
The winners of the talent hunt included Michael Oke, who came first, for inventing Garri processing machines, while Bashiru Fuad emerged second with his invention of a machine that mill oil from seeds.
Oke and Fuad went home with cash prizes of N1.5 million and N1 million, respectively.
Yinusa Ahmed, who invented a cassava peeling machine, came third and got N500,000, while Oluwaseyifunmi Ajao got N400,000 for inventing a filter machine.
Ayinde Abiodun came fifth for inventing Garri fryer and received N300,000 for the invention, while Israel Akinola got N200,000 for inventing a drone that can spray chemical on farmland.
Speaking at the event, the head of the Panel of Judges for the talent hunt, Mr Olalekan Dolapo, challenged the winners not to rest on their oars.
Responding on behalf of his colleagues, the overall winner, Michael Oke, thanked the Federal Government for providing SMEDAN with the wherewithal to organise the talent hunt.
He urged Nigerian youths to embrace agriculture and agro-businesses, which he described as viable providers of job opportunities.
Mrs Olabimpe Fawale, an Assistant Director, SMEDAN Abuja, congratulated the recipients for their feats in inventing the machines that made them winners.
She said that SMEDAN was looking for new innovations; things that have not been done before.
Fawale therefore appealed to the winners to make judicious use of their prizes to advance their businesses.
The only female participant in the talent hunt, Ms Udeme Udoh from Nutty Nuts Nigeria Limited, an agro processor, said she worked with local fabricators.
She said the talent hunt has enabled participants to harness talents to grow the agro-processing in the country.
Udoh said the event was truly a talent hunt as many of the participants have the talents to create machines that were very effective and can increase agro-processing output per annum.
According to the accountant turned agro-processor, this would encourage young Nigerians to go into agro processing businesses.
She advised people in agro processing sector to form cooperatives, pooled funds and purchase processing machines, noting that such machines were very expensive.
Udoh further advised young Nigerians to go into agro-processing business to be self-reliant instead of looking for white collar jobs.