Have you Tasted the New Cassava Bread?

Cassava Bread

Next to rice, bread is probably the most common denominator on the table of rich and poor Nigerians. 

This may be why the Federal Government is making efforts to keep this staple within the reach of the average Nigerian. 

How feasible is this? 

What multiplier effects would this have on the common Nigerian whose other main staple, garri, is a product of cassava?

 How acceptable is the idea of cassava bread to bakers and of course the consumers?

More than N200 billion will be saved annually from wheat importation when the Federal Government’s initiative of 40 percent cassava flour and 60 wheat in a loaf of bread finally takes off in the country, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Adewunmi Adesina, has been quoted as saying on many occasions. Nigeria, experts have said, spends more than N625 billion on wheat importation yearly. 

Contrary to the opinion of many, cassava bread is not a wholly new concept neither is it absolutely exclusive to the current administration.

According to the President, Association of Master Bakers, Confectioners and Caterers of Nigeria, Chief Bayo Folarin, the policy actually started in the dying days of military era in the country. He pointed out that former President Olusegun Obasanjo took it up and passed it to the current administration.
 Folarin said, “This is the third era this same policy will come up.

 A military administration put the percentage of cassava in bread at six.
Cassava Bread

Samples of Cassava Bread

Later, Obasanjo said it would be 30 per cent, which was later reduced to five per cent; but all these did not work because of challenges.

We are waiting to see how the 40 per cent inclusion of cassava in bread will work.” It was not Folarin alone who perceived some challenges in the coming to being of the initiative. Many a Nigerian have also asked questions about the workability of the scheme and whether or not the gains are only and strictly economical, at least on the part of the Federal Government. 
The major question on most lips now, however, is its feasibility.

This question has been answered by the United African Company (UAC), one of the foremost bread and confectioneries producers to latch on to the policy. UAC has begun the production of bread with 10 per cent cassava inclusion, through which the company fine tuned its processes and increased the cassava flour component to 20 per cent and then 30. UTC, another bread and confectionaries producer, recently in an elaborate ceremony had launched its cassava flour-included bread called “Starloaf ”.

UTC Plc Managing Director and chief baker, Mrs. Foluso Olaniyan said the bread is ‘good to go’ having been under the certification searchlight of the National Agency of Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), millers and other international agencies for which it had got the nod to set sail to grocer’s shelves within and beyond Nigeria’s borders.

Also, the Agriculture Minister a couple of weeks ago insisted that it was feasible and that the Federal Government was determined to ensure that before 2015, cassava bread would replace wheat bread in the country.

The minister made the declaration in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, while declaring open a twoday practical training organised by his ministry for about 70 Master Bakers drawn from the South-South geo-political zone on the use of cassava flour to make bread.

Adesina, who was represented by his Special Adviser, Technical, Mr. Tony Egba, expressed regret that despite the fact that Nigeria was the largest producer of cassava in the world, the cassava tuber was only reduced to garri and fufu for public consumption. 

With this development, Nigerians have also expressed fears on the multiplier effects, the eventual implementation of the initiative may have on the economy of the common Nigerian especially as it affects cassava which is the main source of other staples like garri, elubo, fufu, akpu and the rest.

But Dr. Oludiran Akinleye an Agricultural Economist with specialisation in Food and Agricultural Policy said there is no cause for alarm describing the situation that would evolve as a win-win one for all and sundry. “It is a positive development to the Nigerian economy.

And it is a win-win implication. There is nothing negative about the idea of a cassava or potato bread in as much as local content and its multiplier effects is concerned,” he assured frightened Nigerians in an interview with Saturday Mirror.

 On the anxiety expressed in some quarters as to the health implication of the project, Oluwakemi Fashina an experienced nutritionist, allayed the fears.

To her, cassava if processed into bread will give the body carbohydrate and making bread out of it does not remove anything out of its nutritional content.

 Cassava has nutrients such as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, phosphorous, iron, a little bit of protein, little fat, ash and water while potato on the other hand is rich in carotene b, vitamins b and c, crude fibre, moisture and fat. 

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