The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has rolled-out a project to support the inclusion of cassava flour in bread and other confectioneries towards improving food security and the livelihoods of farmers.
The project is to be executed through two IFAD grants: “Enhancing the Competitiveness of the High Quality Cassava Flour Value Chain (HQCF) in West and Central Africa,” and “Improving Quality, Nutrition and Health Impacts of Inclusion of Cassava Flour in Bread Formulation in West Africa (Ghana and Nigeria).
Dr Alfred Dixon, Project Leader for the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture’s project on Sustainable Weed Management Technologies for Cassava Systems in Nigeria, said the two projects are essential in view of Africa’s comparative advantage in cassava production.
Speaking at the launch of the projects, Dr Dixon stressed that improving the utilization of the crop, and scaling up/out processing technologies would help Africa address the issue of poverty and hunger on the continent.
“Africa has a comparative advantage in cassava production… so let us use cassava to get what we want,” he said.
The projects would support the generation, dissemination and adoption of improved technologies for cassava production and processing; develop and pilot-test a set of integrated best-bet options for HQCF production and promote market access to secondary products, among other benefits.
It would also develop and promote appropriate evidence-based models for sustainable value chain development for African agricultural commodities using HQCF production and processing as an example.
Dr Dixon, who represented the Director General, IITA, Dr Nteranya Sanginga described cassava as a poverty fighter.
He said grown mostly by small scale farmers, cassava is a source of livelihood to about 600 million people in the developing world including Africa, Asia and Latin America.
However, the value chain of the root crop is under developed and coupled with the relative high perishing nature of the crop, farmers in Africa are yet to exploit the full potential of the crop in terms of livelihoods improvement.
In recent times, researchers from IITA and partners successfully baked bread using 40 per cent cassava in wheat flour, providing an alternative source of raw material for makers of bread and other confectionaries.
Dr Malu Ndavi, IFAD Senior Programme Officer, said IFAD sees the inclusion of cassava in bread/confectionaries as a major step that would address food insecurity, create jobs especially for rural youths, and incomes.
He said: “Our expectation is that these projects will touch the lives of rural poor farmers”.
He urged implementers/ partners to work together towards ensuring that the project’s goals and objectives were delivered on time.
The 18-month project on cassava for increasing nutrition and health impacts would be led by Dr. Bussie Maziya-Dixon from IITA side, while Prof Michael Ngadi is the leader from McGill University, Canada.
However, Dr. Adebayo Abass from IITA would spearhead the 36-month project on enhancing the competitiveness of HQCF value chain.
Other partners include the University of Agriculture Makurdi, Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi; National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike; wheat flour millers, farmers, bakers and cassava processors among others.
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