Nigerian bakers under the umbrella of the Master Bakers Association have urged the Federal Government to subsidise the cost of cassava flour in Nigeria and boost adoption as flour prices remain high.
The appeal was made by the association’s Chairman, Dr Chidi Orlu, during a capacity-building development for master bakers on the use of high-quality cassava flour for baking bread organised by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD).
The association fore-warned that if bakers start using cassava flour, the demand for cassava will skyrocket, sending prices up and making it difficult for farmers to meet the demands.
Comparing costs: Dr Orlu noted that the current cost of cassava flour in the country had discouraged bread production with the flour and posed a serious challenge to the government’s effort towards stopping wheat importation for bread making.
He added that it is cheaper to produce bread and other confectionery using wheat flour than to produce them with cassava flour, citing that a Baker needs 2.5kg of butter to produce good bread with 50kg of cassava flour while about 500g of butter can be used to produce bread with 50kg of wheat flour. He said:
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“Inflation is now so high. Where do we get high-quality cassava flour and if available, at what rate? If bakers decide to use cassava flour, the demand for cassava will be massive and that will make it difficult for some farmers to meet the demand from bakers.
“All over the world, when you start a project of this nature the desire may not be achieved at the beginning; it’s something you get in the long run.”
FG responds: The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, said the government’s agriculture policy was poised to build an agribusiness ecosystem that would address the challenges in the agricultural sector.
He noted that the cassava inclusion policy implementation has failed to achieve desired objectives of master bakers’ demand for cassava flour due to some challenges which stakeholders are trying to address at present.
For the record: Nigeria’s food inflation surged to 23.72% in October from 23.34% in the previous month, while the core inflation rate rose to 17.76% from 17.6%.