The Federal Government policy to spur an accelerated production of cassava flour and especially turn Nigeria from dependence on wheat flour for bread is yielding dividends.
Nigeria’s wheat imports dropped from an all-time high of 4.051 million metric tonnes in 2010 to 3.7 million metric tonnes in 2012.
Revealing these at the National Stakeholders’ Forum on Cassava Bread in Abuja last Thursday, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, expressed optimism that Nigeria’s dependence on imported wheat will decline even further as the government continues to implement the policy with the installation of industrial scale cassava production machinery and deploy hundreds of compact modular milling systems.
Nigeria is one of the largest importers of food in the world, spending annually about N635 billion importing wheat, wheat flour for use in bread, confectioneries and other foods.
This level of importation of wheat, according to the Minister, is economically not sustainable.
Data shows that in the 1960s, wheat accounted for a small share of the national food consumption. Total wheat import was only 78,000 metric tonnes in 1960.
This rose to 1.4 million metric tonnes in the 1980, 1.913 million metric tonnes in 2000 and to an all-time high of 4.051 million metric tonnes by 2010 and by 2011, Nigeria was already spending N635 billion on wheat imports.
Adesina warned that this rising dependence on wheat poses several challenges for the nation’s economy as earned foreign exchange is spent on wheat imports.
He reiterated that it was because of these negative consequences that the Federal Government, as part of the Transformation Agenda in the agricultural sector, launched an aggressive strategy to substitute cassava flour for wheat flour in bread and confectioneries.
The government has also announced a number of fiscal policies to support this cassava substitution plan.
Adesina had announced that as part of the cassava policy, the government is facilitating the acquisition of compact modular milling systems that will allow the bakers mix their own cassava flour with wheat flour in the right ratios.
The compact modular milling systems will be operated by some of the existing master bakers and other entrepreneurs.
Copyright Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to www.shipsandports.com.ng as the source.