Wheat: Stakeholders Blame Government For Abandoning Cassava Bread Initiative | The Guardian Nigeria News
Amid the Russian-Ukrainian war and its ripple effects on rising wheat flour prices in Nigeria, stakeholders in the agricultural sector have criticized the government for abandoning the Cassava Bread initiative.
The initiative targeted the inclusion of 40% composite cassava flour in bread production to reduce Nigeria’s wheat import bill and also help develop the cassava value chain.
To ensure the achievement of its target, the Federal Government released N10 billion in 2011 for the Cassava Bread Development Fund and to support cassava bread research and development efforts, training of master bakers, support for master bakers in the acquisition of new production equipment. and the fund was to be generated by import duties on wheat.
A retired Deputy Director, Root and Tuber Crops, FMARD, Abuja, Olusegun Ayeni, while speaking with The Guardian, lamented that he was unhappy that six years later no one is talking about cassava bread and the CBN trying to look for alternatives to fill the supply gap.
He said the former minister established a cassava bread development fund domiciled in the Ministry of Finance to be financed by the 15% levy on the import of wheat, adding that the composite bread bill has also been sent to the National Assembly alongside other bills.
He recalled that as a member of the Committee on High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) in Bread, several meetings and memos were sent to Agriculture Minister Audu Ogbeh when he took over from Adesina, explaining why the initiative should not be allowed to fail but sadly the baby and the water were thrown away.
On what the government can do to mitigate the current downturn in wheat production, Ayeni said the document establishing the bread initiative should be studied and strengthened, adding that the government should revitalize the Cassava Bread Development Fund. where a 15% levy on imported wheat goes into the account.
He also pointed out that every region/state that has a comparative advantage in cassava, sorghum and potatoes, especially orange-fleshed sweet potato should be encouraged to participate in the program, saying that state governments should be able to operate the policy according to their needs. the economy, while the federal government should drive policy.
He also underscored the need for all stakeholders involved including the Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture, National Association of Cassava Producers, millers, master bakers, among others, to work together. so that processors and master bakers are brought together to work with the BOI, while farmers can again be brought in with a well-articulated memorandum of understanding to work with the BOA.