TANZANIA – In Tanzania, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is persuading bakers to start using cassava and wheat flour in making bread to reduce the dependence on the latter and reduce costs.
This is following a study whose findings found that cassava flour could replace between 20 percent and 30 percent of the wheat flour typically used to make bread without significantly impairing the leavening process that causes the dough to rise.
Dr Regina Kapinga, the IITA Head of Advocacy and Resource Mobilisation was speaking to delegates at the sideline of the ongoing African Food System summit.
According to her, the move to incorporate cassava in baking may lower the cost of producing bread given the escalating global wheat prices.
Baking the proposal, the Tanzania Bakeries Association (TBA) said cassava flour is good when mixed with wheat flour in baking bread by around 20 percent.
According to TBA, using cassava flour in baking loaves of bread could save the country from the burden of importing wheat.
The country primarily imports wheat from Russia spending US4100 million, Australia US$ 50.8 million, Ukraine US$38.7 million, Argentina US$ 15.4 million, and Canada US$8.25 million annually, per Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) data.
Additionally, the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute’s (TARI) latest data show that the production of wheat is still low at 100,000 tonnes compared to the demand of 1,000,000 tonnes per year.
The imbalance forces the country to import about 90 percent of wheat to balance consumption each year.
Dr Kapinga further revealed that IITA has found that three types of cassava are suitable for use in baking bread and yet the bread remains good.
The proposal comes at a time when Tanzania is implementing a sustainable cassava strategy targeting a 550% increase in hectarage of improved cassava seed variety by 2030.
Cassava production in Tanzania has increased from 5.9 million tonnes in 2008/09 to 8.2 million tonnes in 2018/19.
To tap into the Cassava market prospects, recently, the Cereals and Other Produce Board (CPB) identified 25 areas where it will build cassava processing facilities, as part of efforts to boost cassava production and ensure markets for local farmers.