By Chris Ochayi
…Accuses flour mills of mischief
ABUJA: The Federal Government Friday denied that it sent any bill on mandatory inclusion of 40 percent cassava flour in bread to the House of Representatives.
Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina who stated this while reacting to media reports on the issue at a press conference in Abuja, said such executive bill does not exist.
According to him, “firstly, let me state that there was no such bill from the Executive and so therefore no decision can be taken by the National Assembly on an executive bill that does not exist.Describing the reports as a figment of imagination, the minister noted that, “in considering the decision on cassava bread, issues of patriotism and national pride, economy, food security and sound science must be all taken together.”
“For far too long, Nigeria has depended on importation of wheat flour annually to feed its population, which is not sustainable politically and economically. Nigeria spends N635 billion of hard earned foreign exchange importing wheat every year.
“And there are those who make a lot of money doing this that do not want any effort of government to do partial substitution of wheat flour with cassava flour to work. They are working for themselves, their pockets, not for Nigerians.”
The minister pointed out that, “the private sector is already successfully substituting cassava flour for wheat flour in bread and confectionaries. UTC Plc and Food Concepts, two of the largest bakers in the country are commercialising healthy cassava-based bread and confectionaries.”
He said, “in particular, UTC has been the leader, and has gone ahead to train more bakers who are ready to adopt this new technology. That is true patriotism.
“The issue of use of cassava in bread is also an economic decision. Nigeria spends N635 billion importing wheat and keeping farmers of wheat exporting countries employed, exporting jobs, while displacing jobs at home. Cassava, for which Nigeria is the largest producer in the world, is being used to produce high quality cassava flour to replace some of the wheat.
“The flour mills and their surrogates are doing all they can to misinform Nigerians, so as to protect their super normal profits, which they siphon out of Nigeria. They are fighting to make Nigerian farmers poor and wretched, while making farmers of wheat exporting countries happy.
He said, “the statements credited to some that cassava consumption is not goods for those with diabetes is wholesomely untrue, scientifically baseless and is a deliberate attempt to misinform Nigerians.”
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