The Federal Government will cut down wheat importation by 20 per cent and save over N127 billion from its annual wheat import bill of over N635 billion as from 2014, Agric mInister Akinwumi Adesina has said.
Adesina who disclosed this on Tuesday in Lokoja at a two-day training workshop on cassava bread organised for Master Bakers from the North Central zone, said that government had concluded plans to implement its policy of 20 per cent substitution of wheat with cassava flour in bread production, to reduce the bill.
The minister, represented by Toyin Adetunji, his Technical Adviser on Cassava Value Chain, said the policy was expected to save Nigeria over N127 billion.
He said the Master Bakers’ training was part of measures aimed at developing cassava industry, create jobs and boost the income of the people.
Adesina said the policy was also aimed at diversifying the country’s economic base from oil to non-oil sectors.
According to him, with a production capacity of 40 million metric tonnes per annum, Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava in the world, with Brazil, Thailand and Indonesia trailing on.
“The challenge to us as a nation is that Thailand, which is the third largest producer of cassava, controls over 80 per cent of the world market of cassava starch. Hence, there is need for us to play our role as a leading producer nation.’’
The minister said that President Goodluck Jonathan had approved N10 billion as cassava bread development fund.
He said that the training, which currently had a total of 770 master bakers across the six geo-political zones, was expected to train a minimum of six bakers from each local government area of the country.
In their separate remarks, Dare Arotiba, the ministry’s coordinator of Agriculture Transformation Agenda (ATA) in Kogi, and Simeon Abanilo, Chairman, Master Bakers in the state, commended the initiative of the government.