Before 1987, the brewery industry in Nigeria was importing Barley and Barley malts, spending a huge amount of foreign exchange year after year without recourse to substitution with locally produced resources. Research carried out by food scientists in Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya among other countries however established that raw Sorghum and Sorghum malt was a good, if not better, replacement for Barley.
The Federal Government of Nigeria therefore banned of importation of Barley and Barley malts in 1987 to save foreign exchange. This singular act of sheer patriotism provided the needed impetus for the development of Sorghum production and malting in Nigeria. Sorghum is abundantly grown over a wide semi-arid region of Nigeria. It surpasses all other cereals, but its industrial use is less than 10% of annual production.
Following the ban on importation of Barley and Barley malt, improvised Sorghum malting plants sprang up to meet the demand for breweries mainly. Most of them did not have the equipment, facilities and infrastructure, to meet FDA processing/sanitary requirements, to process raw Sorghum into products, like malts and extracts.
Visionary entrepreneur, Mr. A.K. Mirchandani, the Chairman of Sona Group, envisaged the huge potential for malting industry in Nigeria and the economic development cycle it could trigger from augmenting national cereal output, to revamping rural economy, to job creation and to saving of foreign exchange. He planned the establishment of a modern malting plant to produce malted Sorghum and malt derivatives like malt extract, malt syrup, glucose etc to meet the requirement of not only the breweries but also other companies engaged in production of energy foods and beverages, weaning formulae, confectioneries, pharmaceuticals etc.
The fruit of his vision is Food, Agro & Allied Industries Limited, a modern 100 MT per day Sorghum malting plant and 75 MT per day state-of-the-art malt extract plant.
Food & Agro is a unique industry in Nigeria, working with 100% local raw materials. Thousands of families all over the country are now directly or indirectly involved in economic activities in Sorghum production to finished products.