Rising Cost Of Bread: FG Advised To Revisit Cassava Flour Solution

* Bread in shelves * Courtesy The Cable 

…Says Bread May Disappear From Table Of Average Nigerian  Table If…

As the cost of bread in the country continues to rise, the Federal Government has been   advised to revisit the  idea of using Cassava flour for making  bread to reduce the cost and make it affordable..

The advice was given by the Finance and Business Online Publishers (FiBOP) Association at the end of its monthly review of the economy.

The advice according to the association became necessary in view of the soaring cost of bread and other food items occasioned by the ongoing Russia – Ukraine war, which has disrupted the supply of wheat to Nigeria.

Nigeria is currently facing a serious food crisis as average citizens in the country cannot afford staples especially bread due to the escalating cost of the product.

According to FiBOP data released by the US Department of Agriculture, Nigeria produces about 60,000 metric tonnes of wheat, and yearly demand stands at between 4.5 and 5.0 million tonnes.

Nigeria relies on Russia and Ukraine for 30 per  cent of its wheat supply but with the raging war between the two neighbouring East European nations, grain exports have been disrupted by a lack of transportation because of port closures and international sanctions slammed on Russia.

Nigeria, according to available statistics imported $403.65 million worth of grains from Russia in 2020 and $409.23m from Ukraine within the same period.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) stated that Nigeria imported N898.2 billion worth of wheat within nine months as at September 2021.

The top countries that exported  wheat  to Nigeria in 2021, according to statistics, were the USA, N194.2 billion; Canada, N136.4 billion, Russia, N124 billion, Lithuania, N122.3 billion and Latvia, N115.9 billion.

With no end in sight on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the Director General of Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Qu Dongyu, said, “the likely disruptions to agricultural activities of these two major exporters of staple commodities could seriously escalate food insecurity globally when international food and input prices are already high and vulnerable.”

Meanwhile, FiBOP recalled that  some weeks ago, the European Union  revealed that about 30 ships fully loaded with wheat were blocked by the Russian Navy from leaving Ukrainian Ports for their destinations in African, adding that the scarcity has further pushed up the market price of wheat

Investigation by FiBOP revealed that loaves of bread which was hitherto sold for N200, N350, N400 and N500 respectively have now gone up to N500, N600, N700 and N800 or more.

Checks by FiBOP also revealed that prices of the product keep increasing virtually every weekend in Lagos, for instance.

Mrs. Eunice Adebayo, One of the bread consumers, who spoke to  FiBOP on the skyrocketing prices of bread in an interview, said, “The one we buy N800 this weekend may cost N900 next week. We are inching closer to buying a loaf of bread for N1500 at the rate things are going. And when That happens, many more will not be able to afford bread. Already, many families, especially those pretty large ones, like three children plus parents, now regard bread as luxury food because of cost.”

The body also found out that a 100 kilogramme bag of wheat which was sold between N25, 000 and N26, 000 in 2021 now sells between N36, 000 and N37, 000 in some states.

Similarly, a 50 kilogramme bag of the product sells for  N21, 000, 10 kilogramme sells for N10, 000, 5 kilogrammes, N5, 000, 2 kilogrammes, N1, 200, 1 kilogramme, N600 and 50 kilogrammes, N21, 000.

Recall that  the  Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO) in the year 2017 advocated for composite bread; that is a mix of Cassava and Wheat flour for bread.

FiBOP argued that it was based on  the above that it is calling on the  Federal  Government to revisit the issue with a view to improving on the quality of output of this combination.

The association added that this measure becomes necessary when it is realised that it is going to ensure that bread as a staple food does not disappear completely from the table of the average Nigerian as a result of its spiraling price.

FiBOP further contended that aside from helping to conserve the nation’s foreign exchange, it will also help in ensuring food security for the nation and Nigerians.

In the same vein, FiBOP also advised the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to intensify support for cassava cultivation and cassava flour processing

“It is our view that if the CBN can give the same amount of support to Cassava cultivation and processing like it did to rice, then Nigeria  would be inching towards food  sufficiency and better forex earnings,” FiBOP said.

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