Written by Adeleke Mainasara
A Nigerian community has lauded the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in successfully producing bread with 40 percent cassava flour that has similar eating qualities as 100% wheat flour bread.
The innovation, if adopted, will help Nigeria—Africa’s largest oil producer—to save about $252 million annually, and improve the livelihoods of cassava farmers in the country.
“We would like to commend IITA for the inclusion of high quality cassava flour in bread. This is a great breakthrough,” the Permanent Secretary, Oyo State Ministry of Agriculture, Isaac Adeduntan, said during a courtesy call by IITA’s Deputy Director General of Partnerships and Capacity Building, Dr Kenton Dashiell, to the agricultural ministry last week.
Adeduntan said the innovation would have a positive impact on the livelihoods of resource-poor farmers, and create wealth with a spin-off effect on job creation for youths.
Beyond the use of composite flour in baking, the courtesy visit identified areas of collaboration between IITA and the Oyo State Government.
The Commissioner for Agriculture, Bimbo Kolade, specifically sought IITA’s help in promoting cassava, maize and yam, as the state embarks on a transformation program to make these crops catalysts of development.
“For us, as a state, we have identified cassava, yam, maize, cocoa, oil palm, horticultural crops, and cashew as crops that will drive the agricultural transformation of the state,” Kolade said.
“In the next 4–5 years, we want people to identify Oyo state with these crops. We believe that with IITA, we should be the first in cassava production,” he added.
In his response, Dr Dashiell said the milestone achieved in the use of composite flour in bread was a collaborative effort between IITA and partners.
He said that the aim of the visit was to identify and develop action points that both IITA and the state government would pursue to realize the vision of agricultural transformation.
To demonstrate the Institute’s commitment, Dr Dashiell promised that IITA would support the state with improved cassava planting materials on a 2-hectare piece of land.
He thanked the state government for the construction of the Ajibode road which eases the movement of IITA staff and farmers in the area.
Located in the southwest Nigeria, Oyo state hosts IITA, and is endowed with vast arable land. Besides IITA, the state also hosts the highest number of agricultural research institutes in Nigeria.