Earlier this year I traveled to New Orleans to attend the 2015 Annual International Meeting of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE). A big focus this year was about world hunger and how engineers can use their knowledge and experience to aid in the fight.
Instead of usual rhetoric of how the U.S. has to produce more food, three engineers have been teaching Nigerians how to produce their own food sustainably.
Extension engineers Klein Ileleji, Samuel McNeill, and George Opit have developed teaching materials to improve food security and worker safety in Nigeria through better grain-handling and storage techniques. They were awarded ASABE’s Educational Aids Blue Ribbon Award for their efforts.
One of the solutions was the development of a low-cost grain dryer that will be integrated into the existing homestead cooking stove for simultaneous cooling and drying of maize. It is called the Purdue Improved Drying Stove (PIDS) for grain drying. You can see pictures and learn more about the stove here.
Ileleji is an agricultural engineer from Purdue University, McNeill is an agricultural engineer from the University of Kentucky, and Opit is a post-harvest entomologist from Oklahoma State University.
The training took place from 2010 to 2014, with $400,000 in funding from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). Nearly 300 stakeholders participated.
“The effort made significant impact toward commodity protection, stored-grain management, and reduction in post-harvest losses, factors that are critical to local agricultural economies, according to a news release issued by ASABE. “In at least one case, improved facility-hygiene practices eliminated the need for application of chemical fumigants and saved the facility $35,000 annually.
So successful was the 2010-2014 effort by Ileleji, McNeill, and Opit that USAID and USDA-FAS have awarded the team an additional $930,000 for expansion of the training in Nigeria.
Caption: Sam McNeill (Univ of Kentucky), left, and Klein Ileleji (Purdue U), right, train Nigerian stakeholders in best practices for grain handling.