NIGERIA – The Nigerian Cassava Growers Association (NCGA) has revealed that Nigeria suffers an annual loss of over US$200 million due to the non-implementation of the cassava bread scheme.

The cassava bread scheme, established in October 2012 by former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Akinwunmi Adesina, aimed to incorporate cassava products into bread production to reduce dependence on wheat flour and save foreign revenue.

However, the scheme failed after Adesina’s tenure, contributing to the country’s dependence on wheat importation, despite Nigeria being the largest producer of cassava worldwide.

Mustapha Bakano, the newly appointed NCGA National President, stated this during a press briefing following the inauguration of executive members in Abuja.

Bakano noted that the nation’s excessive reliance on wheat flour for bread production results in high costs of importation.

“I won’t say we got it wrong, but something happened along the line, government policy direction changed. Had the initiative continued, by now, we would have been using 40% of cassava in flour in the bakery. By now, we would not be saying we are suffering from depletion in our foreign reserves,” he said.

He assured that the association is working tirelessly to see 10 percent of cassava come into wheat to reduce the import bill for the country.

If we can input 10 percent in the first year, we will look at how we can reduce the import bill by almost US$200m, by the time we go to 20 percent, it is now US$400m so we are looking at a framework where we can go to 3 to 4 years.”

The NCGA is actively pursuing a resource development plan to address challenges and seek government support for policy implementation.

Bakano urged for decisive policy action to promote domestic consumption of locally produced goods, stating the nutritional and economic advantages of cassava-based products.

This comes after recently, the Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria (AMBCN) staged a peaceful nationwide protest over the rising cost of production in the baking sector.

The association said the protest was to “drive home demands to save the baking industry from the imminent collapse which may add to the heightened security situation of our dear country”.

According to the association, the decision to withdraw services stems from the rising costs of essential baking materials, including flour, sugar, yeast, vegetable oil, petrol, and diesel.

They also expressed concern over multiple taxations from various government agencies, as well as escalating business costs within Nigeria.

The AMBCN have therefore appealed to the government for the liberalisation of flour and sugar importation, a reduction or total removal of import duties on major baking materials, and provision of concessionary foreign exchange (FX) to flour millers and stakeholders.

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