NIGERIA – The Federal Government, Wednesday, in Abuja, launched commercial production of 10 per cent composite cassava flour product in the country.
The initiative was scripted to reduce wheat production into the country and promote local content in production.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, during the launch of the cassava composite flour produced by Honeywell and Flour Mills of Nigeria in Abuja, also commissioned equipment that would help bakers raise the bar of high quality cassava flour to 20 per cent and beyond.
While disclosing that government was at an advanced stage in the development of a composite flour policy that would make mandatory the use of 10 per cent cassava or sorghum flour in all bread produced in the country by December 2016, Adesina disclosed that within the next 24 months, government would establish six medium-sized mills in different parts of the country.
He explained that aim of the government was to ensure Nigeria, being the highest producer of cassava in the world, also become the highest processor of the commodity, saying “the government is determined to unlock the agriculture potential and reverse decades of dependency on food imports.”
He said that the launch of commercial cassava composite flour would change the landscape of the crop forever.
“No more would the crop be seen as a subsistence crop for household and village-level processing. Cassava has now become the raw material of choice for the bread flour, sweetner, starch and ethanol markets.”
He added: “The bold and farmer-centric cassava bread initiative that is today being eloquently demonstrated by the launch of 10 per cent composite flour from these two pioneers- Flour Mills of Nigeria and Honeywell- and the commissioning of bakers’ equipment, is evidence of Nigeria’s unstoppable march to industrialisation of our local food crops.”
The Minister also disclosed that over 4, 000 bakers had started training on production of cassava bread, out of which 1, 000 had been certified.
Meanwhile, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, in his goodwill message, assured speedy hearing and passage of bills bordering on cassava products at the floor of the Senate, as it had become a serious focus in the agricultural sector and for wealth creation in the country.
Chairman, the Honeywell Group, Chief Oba Otudeko, said with the launch of the 10 per cent cassava composite flour, over N127 billion from wheat importation would be saved and pledged private sector’s support for the initiative.
Otudeko also expressed optimism that Nigeria can feed itself and that could solve over 50 per cent of the country’s challenge, but urged Nigerians to collectively achieve food security in the country.
The National President, Nigeria Cassava Growers Association, NCGA, Segun Adewunmi, expressed lauded the launch of the 10 per cent composite cassava flour .
“For us to get this far and realise this goal in Nigeria is commendable. We as cassava growers have planted 32, 000 hectares of cassava and we have the data of all farmers who have done this. he stated.
Also a goodwill message from the master bakers indicated that 97 out of the 173 approved members have already received the equipment which are now being used in their factories.