A newly formed association of bakers called the Premium Breadmakers Association of Nigeria (PBAN) has called on Nigeria’s government to revive the 20 percent wheat flour substituted for cassava flour policy.
The policy was given renewed push under the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan, which attempted to ensure that 20 percent cassava flour was added to wheat flour in the production of bread, though the campaign precedes Jonathan’s administration and after the president left office, the initiative was jettisoned.
The policy had been welcomed by experts who had said then that substituting wheat with cassava in the local production of bread in Nigeria will save the country N255 billion yearly, but the policy was not followed through.
But as the case with so many policies in Nigeria, the cassava bread bill was ignorantly stepped down at the House of Representatives who claimed cassava bread could exacerbate diabetes when scientific evidence proved otherwise.
Tosan Jemide, pioneer PBAN President said his association believes that the project was feasible and the association intends to make inputs into its revival and sustenance.
Jemide said PBAN would engage critical stakeholders in the bread making industry to ensure its members get a fair deal in the pricing of raw materials which would cascade to fairly-priced bread.
He, however, added that foreign exchange rates, which determine the cost of raw materials, substantially took the prices of bread out of the hands of bakers. He also said PBAN would work with regulatory agencies and other stakeholders to ensure Nigerians get quality and healthy bread.
He listed the high cost of getting alternative energy due to the epileptic power supply and lack of access to low-interest loans, as the main challenges PBAN members are faced with and appealed to the Bank of Industry (BOI) to grant PBAN members special concession.
Jemide said PBAN’s membership was open to all premium bread makers in Nigeria, whose bakeries were registered with NAFDAC and the Ministry of Commerce and Industries and do not use harmful additives and in addition, their products must be packaged in printed wrappers with proper labeling, address and contact numbers and the bakery must have safety measures and good manufacturing processes in place.
Other members of the executives of PBAN, which cuts across various backgrounds, include; Bose Ladi Ofolu, deputy president; Ladipo Olumide, assistant secretary; Olugbenro Oyekan, secretary; Oluyinka-Akinola, auditor; Emma Onuorah, publicity/industrial relations officer; Yetunde Adeyemo, treasurer; Yomi Awe, compliance/protocol officer and Abdulsalam Ogbemudia, financial officer.