UZWIL, SWITZERLAND — Bühler announced on May 13 that it has opened the first-ever training mill in Africa in Nairobi, Kenya. The first 27 African students from nine different African countries began their two-year milling course a few weeks ago.
“With this investment in well-qualified millers, we are helping the continent to further develop this key industry,” said Martin Schlauri, who manages the milling school in Africa.
After four years of intensive planning and construction stages and an investment of around CHF 5 million, Bühler opened the new training mill in Nairobi a few weeks ago. The last few years have seen an enormous increase in the need for basic foods in Africa due to the growth of its population. In addition, a change in eating habits has led to a continually rising demand for cereal products, Bühler said.
“This growing demand is coming up against a dramatic shortage of specialist workers,” said Schlauri. Few African milling workers can afford expensive training courses in Europe. “We are bringing dual traineeships to Africa in order to educate people locally.”
The 27 places on the two-year milling course were filled within a very short time and there is already strong demand for the courses to be run over the next few years, Bühler said.
The school in Nairobi is equipped with state-of-the-art technology. The students are experienced millers who have already accumulated many skills on the job. Many are from some of the largest mills in the world.
Students will learn everything about the milling process from how to store grains correctly and optimizing management of the milling process to what are the most important quality criteria for flour.
For example, during the milling process, the chaff is separated from the flour. When this process is run badly and the rollers are worn out, the mill’s flour yield will decrease.
“In a mill that grinds up to 1,000 tonnes of grains every day this can accumulate to up to 2% of the yield,” Schlauri said. More yield in this case means no less than 20 tonnes of flour per day. That is equivalent to a fully loaded truck or more than 30,000 one-kilogram loaves of bread.
It’s not just the yield that will be affected – energy use in an optimally managed mill decreases by up to 15%; if the grooves on the rollers have lost their edge this will consequently cost more energy. This example alone shows the importance of a skillful mill operation – “and that’s only one part of the curriculum,” said Schlauri. Hygiene and safety are two other key features of the course program.
For Bühler, the opening of the milling school in Africa continues a long tradition of education and training, both for its own employees and for its customers. This year Bühler will be celebrating the 100-year anniversary of dual traineeships in Switzerland. Fifty years ago the first training mill in Switzerland was established in St. Gallen. Today, Bühler runs milling schools in China, India and the U.S., among others.
“The opening of this new institution means we have attained a new milestone,” said Schlauri.