June 3, 2023

Gasifier: Olam Agri Pushes Envelope On Environmental Sustainability 


Focused environmental sustainability drive is critical to achieving a prosperity level that works for
all. This sustainability drive often leads to efficient business operations and helps improve wellness
in communities.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) remarked in a report that pivoting to environmental
sustainability can prevent about 13 million deaths yearly, and drastically reduce disease burdens
globally. On the business side, McKinsey & Company, a global professional services firm, posited
that embedding sustainability on a broader scale in operating models does yield a lot of value,
including reducing cost that “can improve operating profits by up to 60 percent.”
Environmental sustainability discourse is gaining traction as the rate of agricultural harvest is
almost exceeding the rate of regeneration globally; the rate of depletion of non-renewable energy
resources such as fossil fuel necessitates the development of renewable alternatives, and air
pollution and waste generation arising from industrial practices seems to get out of control. These
have become regulatory topline issues.
To curb these issues, an investment in curiosity-driven research that will prioritise smart agriculture
as well as fast-track the adoption of renewable energy must be prioritised.
This investment will help curb environmental issues such as higher carbon emissions and ineffective
management of waste released from the production circles. For instance, Nigeria is also beginning
to take the focus seriously.
Abdullahi Mohammed Evuti from the Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Abuja, in
an academic presentation, subtly advised the Federal Government to focus on formulating policies
that would ensure a balance between ‘'economic development and the sustainability of its
environmental resources."
The private sector is rising to support the government’s effort in driving environmental
sustainability. This support action is expected to raise public health levels and generate cost
efficiency across industries' operations, cascading into impressive GDP growth in the long run.
Olam Agri, an agribusiness into food, feed and fibre is one of the top businesses that through the
Seeds for The Future Foundation (SFTF), its corporate social investment (CSI) vehicle, the business is
addressing issues that are impeding national prosperity. The CSI vehicle is focused on supporting
farmers and farming communities, enabling wider education & skill development for young people,

upskilling women bakers, promoting health & nutrition, and reducing carbon emissions in business

To fast-track, the achievement of reduced carbon emissions across business operations, Olam Agri
in Nigeria focuses on delivering innovation capable of reducing carbon footprint and encouraging a
cleaner, greener Nigeria within its sphere of influence.
It recently developed an industry innovation targeted at utilising agri-waste to produce a heat
source useful for bakery operations. The innovation which is called ‘the Gasifier’, is a Palm Kernel
oven which utilises palm kernel waste i.e., palm kernel shells to produce heat that powers bakery
ovens. This innovative biofuel provides a cleaner, greener environment.
The palm oil industry is seeing a surge in production activities due to the growth in demand for
palm oil derivative foods, beverages, cosmetics, and personal care products. The derivative
production processes create solid waste begging for innovative utilization. Palm kernel waste is
being utilized by the business as biofuel to generate the energy that powers bakery production
A report compiled by Energy Procedia, from research work carried out in Indonesia established
further that palm kernel biofuel improves public health status by decreasing the level of pollution in
the air. It reduces the level of solid waste lying around. It reduces the cost of energy by cutting the
rate of dependence on the more expensive and scarce fossil fuels. It also reduces the depletion of
natural resource as well as mitigate climate change.
With those environmental, climatic, public health and cost advantages in view, Olam Agri's palm
kernel-fired oven or ‘the gasifier’ as it is popularly known is an exciting innovation.
Speaking about the innovative palm kernel-fired oven, Ashish Pande, Country Head, of Olam Agri in
Nigeria, said, “We are committed to supporting the country's sustainability drive to tackle climate
change. As an innovation-driven organisation, we are utilizing agri-waste to produce combustible
gas that fires bakery ovens and cuts reliance on expensive, environmentally unfriendly diesel fuel.
This innovation utilizes the amply available palm kernel shells to produce a form of renewable
energy that aids bakery operations."
“We have completed the trial of the innovative palm kernel shell-fired ovens in five local bakeries.
The owners of the bakeries are realizing the significant cost advantage attached to using the ovens
and are glad to continue with them in place of the more expensive options.”
Bolaji Anifowose, Vice President of Olam Agri in Nigeria, explained that the innovative bakery
solution is practical and cost-effective. He said, “Rather than importing the technology from

elsewhere, the solution is developed locally thereby conserving FOREX. Also on estimates, the palm
kernel fired oven reduces cost significantly by over 75% and decarbonizes baking operation”.
The innovative palm kernel-fired oven represents a profitability stimulus for bakers. The bakers
under the aegis of the Premium Bread Makers Association of Nigeria (PBAN) have been lamenting
the hike in diesel price from N260 to about N850 lately. They said the hike sent the cost of bread
production to an unbearable level, such that many of their members are having to shut down
Sumervant Singh – Vice President – Technical at Olam Agri added that "the shift from fossil fuels to
innovative and sustainable energy sources for baking ovens is not just a matter of economic and
environmental sense, but also a step towards securing a healthier future for our planet and
generations to come,”.
Considering the cost advantage attached to using palm kernel-fired ovens instead of a diesel-
powered generator, in a market plagued by an epileptic power supply, the bakers can look forward
to getting back to their profitability level. Nigeria can also look forward to a greener future driven
by innovation, thanks to Olam Agri in Nigeria.

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