By Tunde Sanni
The Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO) Lagos State, has explained that part of the reasons the Federal Government stepped up the use of cassava bread in the country was to stop the annual importation of N600 billion which is eating into the foreign reserve of the country.
The Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, FIIRO, Jide Olumeko, at a- two-day training for South-west Master Bakers on 20 per cent increase in high quality cassava flour in bread production called on bakers to embrace the cassava bread technology and increase the use of cassava flour in production to improve prices.
Olumeko, represented by FIIRO’s Desk Officer for Cassava Value Chain, Titus Efuntoye, told newsmen that the use of cassava flour will help bread prices to fall by 65 per cent and boost foreign exchange.
He said the increased use of cassava flour would help bakeries to be in business due to a lower cost of production and consumers in turn would have more bread to eat.
“Government is trying to ensure food security in the country hence the initiative. Importation of wheat is weighing heavily on government resources as we spend over N600bn annually to import wheat.
“Efforts in research have discovered that we are able to substitute wheat flour with cassava flour which has a higher nutritional value than the former due to its lower glycerin index responsible for diabetes.
“Cassava flour will give you better quality bread at a cheaper rate, store longer and save foreign exchange in wheat importation by 20 per cent,’’ Olumeko said.
Meanwhile, the Vice-Chairman, Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria, South-west Zone, Alhaji Salaudeen Abolusodun, commended the initiative by FIIRO, saying they were ready to cooperate to help boost the economy.
“It is a very welcome initiative for us to see more support for the use of cassava flour in bread baking because it will definitely help improve prices in the long run.
``Right now the cost of producing bread is high due to high cost of wheat flour. We hope to enter the era when 100 per cent cassava flour will be used to bake bread.
“Initially, it used to be 10 per cent mix adopted since 2005, but with the introduction of the 20 per cent mix of cassava flour, I can assure you bread prices will drop,’’ Abolusodun said.