Dr Victor Iyama, President, Federation of Agricultural Commodity Association of Nigeria (FACAN) says millers’ penchant for wheat in bread production, continue to militate against realisation of calls for cassava bread production in Nigeria.
Iyama told News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja that in spite of the sustained campaigns by the association to discourage wheat importation, millers had remained adamant.
He said that stakeholders still showed lack of interest in the use of cassava flour for bread production.
Iyama noted that the campaign over the years had been for bakers to include only 10 per cent of cassava flour to their bread recipe to discourage importation of wheat.
“The cassava bread this is still on. However, most of the millers are not interested in the cassava bread issue. Especially, because most of them are foreigners and are most interested in wheat.
“What we are asking them to do really is to add just 10 per cent cassava to their recipe. Nobody says it must be 100 per cent of cassava.
“There are some countries that are even doing 40 to 50 per cent of cassava,” he said.
The FACAN president, however, assured that all hope was not lost as the demand for cassava flour particularly for production of other items like biscuits was on the increase.
He said: “Now we have more market for the cassava flour.
“Nestle for example, told us that they want a minimum of 12,000 tonnes of cassava flour every year and there are so many other industries coming up with biscuit industries, looking for it.
“So, we can tell you that we are going back to it and very soon many other people will come into it.”
He commended the Federal Government for coming up with policies to help discourage importation of food items, particularly those that could either be sourced locally or act as substitution for foreign goods.
“What the President has done, stopping foreign exchange allocation to all food items will help us get there. It is one of the best things that has happened to us because we keep shouting China.
“China did not get to where they are without denials. They denied themselves of so many things.
“We cannot eat our cake and have it. We must be ready to deny ourselves of some pleasures especially for the benefit our future generation.
“Some generations in China took the pains to look inward and that is what we are trying to do.
“For me, it is even late. We should have taken that decision a long time ago. We were far ahead of China but look at where they are today.
“You need to deny yourself pleasures for your children and great grand children to be able to praise you for it,” he said.
NAN reports that statistics show that Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava.
The crop, which is in the ‘Manihot’ species, produced in over 20 states of the federation, can be processed into several products like starch, pellets, ethanol and flour.
According to reports, efforts were made by governments as far back as in the 1980’s, to encourage production and consumption of cassava bread, but the efforts did not yield the desired result.
The first attempt by the Federal Government to introduce cassava bread into the country, with the ultimate aim of making it the national bread, was in 1982.
As Nigeria was fast becoming the world’s largest producer of cassava, the government decided to develop it and produce cassava flour from it.
Bread being eaten in the country has always been wholly made of wheat flour; but the government has been pushing to achieve the national bread by encouraging the bakers to mix locally made cassava flour with wheat in the baking process.
In 1982, the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi, presented the first cassava bread, which was produced with 10 per cent of cassava flour and 90 per cent of wheat flour from its research work to the Federal Executive Council, under the administration of ex-President Shehu Shagari.