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August 02, 2015

Nigeria: 'Lack of enabling law stalled cassava flour-for-bread initiative'

Nigeria is the world's largest cassava-growing (est. 49 million tonnes/annum) and consuming country. For many years there have been discussions about why the country couldn't grow even more (current average yields are 10-11 tonnes/hectare) of this resilient, drought-tolerant tuber than it does, and why there hasn't been more of a cassava value-chain established, given the huge potential.

One effort to address these issues was the Cassava Flour Initiative, which required bakeries to use a 20% cassava/80% wheat mix in their breading-baking mixes, in order to kick start a higher-value chain for it than currently exists. The initiative stalled for a whole host of reasons, including simple inertia from an industry used to 100% wheat bread, some consumer resistance ("It tastes different," some consumers said, not in a flattering way), claims of a shortage of baking-quality cassava flour and others. Noble as the idea was, it clearly needed a learning curve and many interventions over a period of time to actualise it.

A former regional business representative has blamed lack of enabling legislation and other support from the government as one reason the aims of the initiative have not been achieved.

Sakirudeen Labode, ex-president of the Ogun State Council of Chambers of Commerce, Mines and Agriculture said, "People acquired land and bought machinery for the ideas as part of the input into the production of bread, unfortunately government is not sincere because there was no law to back the policy that will make it mandatory for the flour millers to use. Many people rushed into the cassava ideas as they rushed and obtained loans from Bank Of Industry, and other banks, while the business is yet to take off. These are huge national losses. Government needed to make a law that will make it binding for consumption,” he said.

African Agriculture 

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