Obasanjo shares 40% cassava bread with African leaders

By The Rainbow

Former Nigeria's President ,OlusegunObasanjo, took the  40 percent cassava flour inclusion in bread to Tanzania recently as he urged the Tanzania President to promote the use of cassava in confectioneries in his country to transform agriculture.

He noted that the use of cassava flour in bread would stimulate the demand for the root crop, create jobs and, more importantly, make farmers proud.

Obasanjo who is the Goodwill Ambassador for the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) was in Tanzania for the  inauguration of  the IITA Science Building in Dar es Salaam.

Former Nigeria's President OlusegunObasanjo and the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, His Excellency, DrMrishoJakayaKikwete, eat bread baked with 40 percent cassava flour to show their endorsement.

Former President Benjamin Mkapa of the United Republic of Tanzania also ate the bread for the first time. The leaders supported the innovation, noting that it would bring several benefits to the continent.

President Kikwete after eating the cassava bread commended IITA for the technology, saying that the bread had an 'excellent' taste.

'There is no difference between this bread and the normal bread we are used to,' he added.

The 40 percent cassava bread was first developed by IITA in Nigeria, as part of efforts to boost the utilization of cassava and create market for farmers.

The Director General for IITA, DrNteranyaSanginga said today that the bread innovation is part of the cassava value chain, stressing that it complements breeding efforts.

In Nigeria, IITA Ambassador Obasanjo, in 2002 initiated a policy on 10 percent inclusion in bread under a program tagged 'the Presidential Initiative on Cassava.' The program which was implemented by IITA and national partners, drove the demand for cassava, increased productivity by about 10million tons in 6 years, and made Nigeria the top world producer of cassava.

The IITA Ambassador urged African governments seeking genuine agricultural transformation to adopt the use of cassava in confectioneries, and institute policies that would make the continent food secure and cut import bills on food.

To facilitate the adoption of the technology across countries in Africa, IITA deployed a team of expert to train local bakers on the inclusion of cassava flour in bread in Tanzania.

Dr Victor Manyong, IITA Director for Eastern Africa noted that the adoption of the technology would improve the livelihoods of farmers, bakers and have a positive impact on the economy of Tanzania.

Consumed by more than 600 million people in the developing world, cassava has transformed from a food security crop to a cash crop with industrial uses in sectors such as brewery, pharmaceutical and confectionery industries. The crop is one of Africa's major staples, with the continent cultivating about 50 percent of global production.