By Jimoh babatunde with agency reports
Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, said that the usage of High Quality Cassava Flour will save the country about N258b every year, just as he commended the management of UTC for its efforts at including 40% cassava flour in production of some of its products.
Speaking during a visit to the corporate office of the company in Lagos recently, Dr. Adesina, explained that Nigeria remains the largest producer of cassava with a total of 36.8million mt harvested from 3.13 million ha in 2009 and an avearge yield of 11.7mt/ha.
The Minister added that in spite of this feat, the country accounts for an insignificant fraction of global value addition of cassava.
While commending UTC for taking the bold step which many had said was impossible, Dr. Adesina said with the inclusion of High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) in some of its products that the country will be saving about N258b every year.
“Those who ship in cheap wheat bread said we can not do it. What UTC has done is the power of what you can do for your country.”
He disclosed that Nigeria spends lot in importing wheat we dont grow, which he explained create business for others , “ for the fact that we import kills business for our farmers. The role of government is not to create poverty, so 40% of HQCF inclusion is to create wealth.”
Dr. Adesina disclosed that the cassava transformation is to turn the cassava sector in Nigeria into a major player in local and international High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) by adopting improved production and processing technologies as well as organising producers and processors into efficient value-added chains.
The Minister revealed that 18 large industrial scale High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) plants will be established soon to generate the 1.2 million tons of HQCF required under the Federal government policy of 40% inclusion rate of HQCF in wheat flour.
The Managing Director of UTC, Mrs.Folusho Olaniyan, while looking forward to the commissioning of the large industrial scale plants, said before now the availability of HQCF had been a challenge.
She noted that UTC is positioned to be part of this initiative based on the company’s first demonstration -test run of cassava-based bread, which dates back to 2007, saying that the company has actually gone ahead to match the quality of the bread produced from the High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) with that of 100% wheat flour.
This new initiative will definitely require additional investment in production, warehousing, and distribution facilities; nonetheless, the benefits in the long-term to the populace and the economy outweigh the challenges at the introductory phase.
Olaniyan said her company has been able to successfully introduce 20% inclusion in bread, 30% in cakes and 40% in meat rolls, and that any moment from now they will be able to roll out in commercial quantity.