Abuja - The Federal Government has concluded plans to import improved flood-resistant rice seedlings from Bangladesh, Akinwumi Adesina, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said on Wednesday.
Adesina disclosed this while launching the sale of cassava composite products at Spar Park ''n’’ Shop in Abuja.
He explained that the improved seedlings would help maximise the yields of rice farmers.
``Flood is a natural disaster and the Federal Government is doing everything to assist farmers when flood happens.
``This seedling that will be imported is of high quality and can withstand any flood.’’
Meanwhile, he said that the cassava composite products showed that the country had huge potential which was not being utilised to create jobs for its unemployed population.
The minister said that this initiative could make the country the largest producer and processor of cassava in the world.
He explained that before now, some master bakers had tried the 20 per cent inclusion of cassava flour in wheat flour to bake bread.
``People first said that this was not possible; well as you can see United Trading Companies (UTC) and Butterfield bakers did it at 20 per cent and now Park ``n’’ Shop is doing it at the same 20 per cent.’’
He gave an assurance that this would give more income to cassava farmers and cassava processors.
Adesina said that the ministry would soon embark on a nationwide training of the 430,000 master bakers through the Cassava Bread Development Fund (CBDF).
He added that the training would be conducted by Park ``n’’ Shop, United Trading Companies (UTC), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and Federal Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO) Oshodi.
According to him, these master bakers will then be the ones to train other bakers at the grassroots.
The minister said that all these efforts were aimed at making the cassava composite products available and affordable to the ordinary man on the street.
Earlier, the Minister of State for FCT, Ms Olajumoke Akinjide, explained that there was no difference between the cassava bread and other bread you can get anywhere in world.
She assured the people that the Federal Government would do everything to popularise the bread.
``The taste of the pudding is in the eating. We have eaten it; we have seen that it is very tasty.
``Cassava has been shown to be very versatile and we have seen the varieties of food that can be made from it.’’
She added that the country should not allow other countries in Africa that had shown interest in growing cassava to take away the initiative.
In his remarks, Kunle Hamzat, the General Manager, Corporate Affairs at Spar Park ``n’’ Shop, said that the initiative to include some per cent of cassava flour in bread making was welcome.
He said that his organisation believed in President Goodluck Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda.
He promised that Spar Park ``n’’ Shop would continue to key into the 20 per cent cassava inclusion in bread making.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that cassava composite products are confectioneries and pastries made from 20 per cent cassava flour mixed with wheat flour.
The products are bread, cakes, cup-cakes meat pies, sausage rolls and spring rolls.