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'Bread Will Become Nigeria's Cheapest Food'

Posted by This Day Online on 2005/03/02 | Views: 515 |

'Bread Will Become Nigeria's Cheapest Food'

Bread consumers in Nigeria have no cause to worry about the cost of their favorite breakfast menu in respect of the recent government policy on the production of composite bread using cassava and wheat flour.

Bread consumers in Nigeria have no cause to worry about the cost of their favorite breakfast menu in respect of the recent government policy on the production of composite bread using cassava and wheat flour.

This is because the Master Bakers Association (MBA), with over 14,000 members in Lagos State alone, has pledged to ensure the success of the policy on the introduction of composite bread of 10% cassava flour with 90% wheat flour into the Nigerian menu, without additional cost charged on the consumers.

Giving the pledge at the headquarters of the Lagos State Agricultural Development Program, Oko-Oba, Agege, Friday, 18th February 2005, the Chairman of the Master Bakers Association (MBA), Alhaji Lateef Oguntoyinbo, said it was the determination of his association to see that bread became the cheapest food in the country in the nearest future. He said his Association has been acquiring land for more production of cassava to complement current farmers' capacity to meet the high demand of cassava, and bring down the cost of cassava flour in the baking industry.

He described the policy as the greatest innovation in the nation's agriculture and industrial developmental efforts in recent times. "The policy is not only going to put more money in the pockets of Nigerian cassava farmers, but it will drastically reduce un-employment, urban violence, armed robbery and open up a new agro-industrial transformation for the entire country with cassava as its base", he said. Alhaji Oguntoyinbo commended efforts of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the Federal Government to create awareness on the policy and sensitize stakeholders on the production of high quality cassava flour for the bakery industry through practical training. He warned cassava processors to be honest and supply high quality cassava flour to the Millers Association to ensure the success of the project nation-wide.

The Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture and Cooperatives, Chief Kaoli Olusanya said the multipurpose use of cassava both for food and industrial products has encouraged the farmers in the State to increase production tremendously. Speaking through the Permanent Secretary, Dr. (Mrs.) Olawale, the Commissioner maintained that farmers are in love with improved cassava varieties developed by IITA because of their high yield potentials.

In a keynote address, Mrs. Oluwatoyin Adetunji, Special Assistant to the President on Food Security, said the need to ensure food security, diversify the nation's economic base and meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) informed the government's various Presidential initiatives and economic reforms to revamp the nation's lost glory in agriculture. She said "President Obasanjo has taken the bull by the horn to achieve the MDG objectives, hence, government's outright ban on the importation of some food items (fruit juices, vegetable oil, poultry products) on which Nigeria has comparative production advantage, while introducing zero or reduced tariffs on agricultural inputs and equipment". Mrs. Adetunji described the policy on composite bread as a "window of opportunities for all Nigerians to tap, especially Lagos State farmers and entrepreneurs".

Earlier in a good will message, the IITA DG, Hartmann represented by Dr. Busie Maziya-Dixon, IITA Food Technologist, said the challenge of meeting the high demand for good quality cassava flour brought IITA and the Presidency together to continue training farmers and processors nation-wide and sensitize them to embrace the simple cassava production and processing techniques. The DG maintained that "with over 200,000 metric tonnes of cassava flour required by the flour mills annually, Lagos State was particularly privileged and positioned to benefit from this great economic opportunity, especially with the presence of the largest number of flour mills located in the State".

More than 300 cassava farmers, processors, and investors attended the workshop.

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