By Abolaji Adebayo
The Federal Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO), has disclosed that over $6billion was spent annually on the importation of wheat as the country refused to embrace the locally developed cassava flour.
According to the Institute, the country would have saved save up to N127billion in foreign exchange through the adoption of cassava bread.
The Director General, FIIRO, Prof. Gloria Elemo, noted that bread would be cheaper and affordable through inclusion of cassava flour, adding that prices of bread could be reduced by 20-45 percent at 20 per cent inclusion in the long term, if policy adopted.
She said, “We have carried out consumers’ acceptability studies on cassava bread produced at various levels of inclusion of high quality cassava flour and the response is very encouraging. But also, one may not rule out some resistance from some quarters due to reluctance to change but change is one thing that is inevitable”.
Elemo disregarded that claim by some laymen that cassava bread could cause diabetes or aggravate diabetic condition, saying the institute, through scientific analysis, has been able to debunk the claim through Glycemic Index (GI) studies using human samples.
“The subjects consumed the cassava bread and we monitored the effect on the blood glucose. Interestingly, at 20 per cent inclusion, even at 10 per cent inclusion, there has been a slight drop in the GI for both bread than it is with bread baked with 100 per cent wheat flour. So there is no threat and it is not the cause of diabetes. Rather, I will even say it is better to use it for management of diabetes. Cassava bread is safe just like wheat bread for human consumption”, she added.
She maintained that it would get to a time when the nation would have more than enough cassava to export. “Presently, there are demands in the export market for cassava but because it is our food security crop we are using it extensively for foods like garri, fufu, so it is not easy to meet export demand. But by the time the value chain is pulled, there will be need for us to increase production. A country like China is in high demand for our cassava”, she added.
The institute therefore promised to train more entrepreneurs on its research and development, saying this would reduce the importation of items that could be produced locally.