Dr. (Mrs.) Gloria Nwakakego Elemo is the first female Director General/Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO).
She talked to Financial Vanguard on why the Federal Government introduced the cassava bread policy. She also explained why the Institute wants to go into commercial production of cassava bread and the impact of the Institute’s Resarch and Development on the industrial sector, among other issues.
Cassava bread has become a burning issue in Nigerian. What informed the Federal Government’s decision to initiate the policy?
Thank you very much. It is on record that in 1984, the Federal Government mandated the use of cassava flour for bread making. Unfortunately, the policy faded then with the administration of President Shehu Shagari. However, the birth of the current interest in 10 percent cassava bread came into being during the visit of the former President Olusegun Obasanjo to FIIRO on the 22nd March, 2004.
During his inspection of some products on display by the Institute, he was attracted to the cassava products especially cassava bread/confectioneries. He ate various samples (0 percent-30 percent cassava wheat bread) and finally chose the 10 percent HQCF/Wheat Flour Bread.
Having eaten the bread, he developed interest in promoting the production of Cassava/Wheat Bread and getting it to the market. Obasanjo gave a directive to the then Director-General of FIIRO, Dr. O. Olatunji to summon a meeting of the well known Flour Millers like Dangote Group and others to watch the proceedings as they claim that no matter how low the percentage, cassava flour will not allow the dough to rise.
Thereafter, the President summoned a meeting of all stakeholders in bread production – the Legislature, the Executive, the Research Institutions, the Cassava Farmers Association, the Flour Millers Association and the Master Bakers to the State House on “Incorporation of 10 percent Cassava Content into Wheat Flour.”
As a follow up to the State House Meeting, a number of activities took place: The President constituted a Committee on Cassava in bread which the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice then, inaugurated. The Honourable Minister of Science and Technology then, made a financial request to the President for FIIRO to demonstrate the innovation of 10 percent Cassava Composite Bread Production in all states of the federation.
A draft bill for the legislation needed for actualising a policy on 10 percent cassava content in bread was prepared. By 1st January, 2005, legislation on the policy took effect, but due to shortage of cassava flour to the millers, the federal government then instructed that the implementation of the policy should take off with 5 percent.
Also, a minimum quality requirement for cassava flour inclusion was set by the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON). The Institute has worked on this innovation for over three decades and has since been training many prospective entrepreneurs including cassava processors on the technology of High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF).
This was done to ensure steady supply of high quality cassava flour to the flour millers. The Institute was also mandated in 2005 to train Nigerian master bakers on the use of 10 percent cassava flour for bread and confectionery products. Till- date,bakers in Akwa Ibom, Oyo, Ogun, Rivers and Lagos States have been trained accordingly. So, FIIRO made cassava the golden crop it is today.