Thursday, November 08, 2012

Nigeria Spends $3.7b Yearly On Wheat Flour Importation - IITA

The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has said that Nigeria spends $3.7 billion annually on the importation of wheat flour.

Mr Samiran Mazumdar, the Head, Hotel and Catering Services of the institute, said that on Thursday in Uyo at the opening of a two-day training programme for Master Bakers from South-South region.

The training is a step forward in the execution of the Federal Government’s new policy on the 20 per cent inclusion of cassava flour in bread baking.

Mazumdar said that various countries had different types of bread made from different crops.

According to him, it is not abnormal for Nigeria to have its bread made from cassava flour.

``It is about our survival and eradication of hunger; it will bring down the cost of bread and also satisfy the consumers.

``It is in our hands to have a better tomorrow, maintain food safety and ensure that our people consume the best.’’

The catering expert explained that cassava flour has low sugar content and rich in fibre.

Mazumdar said that it was advisable for diabetic patients to eat the cassava bread.

In a message, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Adewumi Adesina, said that Nigeria was one of the leading producers of cassava in the world.

The minister was represented by his Special Adviser on Technical Matters, Mr Tony Egba.

He said that it was the policy of the Federal Government to add value to cassava outside eating it as foofoo or gari.

Adesina said that Nigeria currently produced 37 million tonnes of cassava tubers yearly.

He said that it was, therefore, necessary to add value to cassava usage in the country.

According to the minister, IITA has produced bread with 40 per cent cassava flour.

He urged participants to take the training seriously so as to achieve the 20 per cent inclusion of cassava flour in the bread baking.

In his remarks, the South-South Coordinator of Master Bakers Association, Mr Ralph Ekun, appealed to the Federal Government to decentralise the training programmes.

He also requested that the recipe for making the cassava bread be made available with necessary incentives.

Ekun expressed the readiness of master bakers to embrace the policy by adopting the 20 per cent cassava inclusion in bread making.

He, however, expressed the hope that NAFDAC certified cassava flour would be made available.

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