Because of the dwindling global supply of wheat, food scientists at the National crop resources research institute in Namulonge are currently conducting trials on how cassava flour can be used to substitute wheat.
The development follows unconfirmed reports that some of the flour currently being sold as wheat on the market is a blend of high quality cassava flour and wheat flour. According to Dr. Bua Anton the head national cassava program at the National Crops Resources Research Institute, most of the wheat flour currently on the market has up to 90% cassava flour with only 10% of it wheat. He says one can confirm this by looking at the quality of products which were previously being made out of wheat. “If it is chapatti, you will find that it is thicker than the original chapatti and when one eats it, there is a lot of heart burn because of a lot of starch. You will realize that even the bread today has a longer shelf life especially if it is refrigerated,” he said.
In last month’s budget, government introduced a new tax on wheat. Asked what this meant to the ordinary Ugandan, Dr. Bua said it is meant to discourage wheat importation into the country and boost the cassava market but unfortunately, the national bureau of standards has only developed the flour standards but no policy regarding its use. He said that the flour trade is currently booming in Bukedea district where undisclosed biscuit producers are buying the flour.
He added that the Nigerian government has developed a national policy requiring all wheat dealers in the country to promote the use of cassava four as a substitute to wheat so as to promote its cassava industry in response to the dwindling global wheat supply. Cassava is one of Uganda’s main staple crops which is largely produced for domestic consumption According to Dr. Bua, Uganda has not yet tapped into the industrial use of cassava which among other uses is becoming an important crop in the pharmaceutical industry, breweries and the textiles sector.