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The latest on the cassava bread plan sophisticated products and sell

metric lannes per annum. While

cems, the minister said that bak-

countries like ThaIland with 10 Companies like lITe have for higher prices, wtille importing ers are being trained In nutrition wheal bread al exorbitam prices. and ·master nutritionists· are percent production are using already made the shift, lhe transition the minister aims for working on quality recipes for cassava fot various secondary mearu and contrlbutingSOperfoUowing the 40 perren' Is a mkkUe ground tJanSition with the bread, which they dlstribute cent of all value-added CMSava and cassava produ€n globally. Nigeria still remains at the bot-

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Y' aT. 1 commented

the cassava bread buzz that had swept e country. leaving In Its wake IYJ cassava b~ad In slghL I also $lIok~ of the need to promote valUI '--added agrk:uItWl! in NIgeria.. I"~l$ thus g\ad 10 learn Qt.

tom of the value chain. By thus continuing to supply f1IIW casatlls most basic price, NIgeria Is hokIJng on to lhe shonest end of the stick: supplying other markets whh the cassava [rom which tlley (;Sn produce

53\111

substitution rubric, and have begun selling cassava bread on a commercialscalc

that the minister of Agriculture and nura! D"1Ieiopmem. Akin

Adesin., wa, able to address some of the .-oncems I had ex-

pressed in those pieces al the recently cOOl luded <>gun State lnvestmenl J;.rum. On the Is,.e of the chok::e of C8S$IMI as orposed to whHt or some hybrid the minister said thai siner Nigeria Is the only country In the world whJch 1m.

pons 100 perent oflhe wheal It consumes, tht· present consumption plan was not 5U5Iainable. At the same urol ", he said, Nigeria ill

_,,11

the highest pt'Jdutn" of cassava to the world. pnducing 34 million

at ~ 40 pen:ent of the bread now substitution with ca.5Avallour. I-Ie added Ihal cassava bread was one of manyways N'1gt!da was going to Improve value- adding In ca558V8. Another was through the productioo of cassava syrup 10 replace sugar fot- juke and carbonated drinks. Even starch. boLh native and modified. he AId. wiU ~ value-adding 10 lmprove Its quality_ In lerms of how processors will be able to make the shift. cbangjng their equipment. etc.. the ministerdid lIoe say bul noted that the government was In the process of acquiring 18 ncwcassava processin& plants 10 process 1.3 miIUon metrlc lormes ofhlgh qualitycassava 110m. lie abo added thaI companies like UTC have already made the shlfl. following the 40 percent substitution rubric. and have begunselling cassava bread on a commercial scale. According to Admn.. this has been wdI received by oonsumers who. upon lasling the bread. bought aU the loaves in stock. thus dispdling Iears ooncer:ning Its taste. lhe minister also confessed that !he bread has become. staple food In his house. Addressing my nutritional con-

to bakers to enable them produce highly nutritional bread. I-Ie also nOled that In Umudike. Ahla State., a new variety of cassava. Vitamin A cassava Cthe 6rst of 115 kind In Africa), has been launched and this nutritious cassava will be processed inlO flour to make cassava bread. I Us dream Is 10 see Nigeria become the largest proc::essor of cassava Dour in the workI., be saki_ I am glad 10 see thai some follow- up activities have been done alnce the Novt'!mber 30, 2011 anoouncemenl oftbe cassava bread policy. WhDe many of these plana are still in the worb, one kqrdevclopmenlis noteworthy: UTC nowsell5 cassava bread and some Nigaiana have started buying them. I ftICOUI'"age mon: NJgertaos (0 Inquln! whether II is bcintI: so&d In a SCOf1e near them. Whether mon: pmc:e:ssing (inns and bakeries will be convinced e.nough 10 make this shift and cassava wUJ indeed emerge as a vlaWe competilor to Imported wheat bread n:mains to be.seen.

Debt management: Matters arising Nigerians were made to beUeve thai the remnlnlng major IOreign debts were 10 be forgiven and domesdc resoUrcel would now be channro.led t~-aros pro-poor ~lopmt'!nI projects and inr",~, espedally In the .JOdai

"""on. On thl' contf1llry, Nigeria and

T:

lechalkt.orde.bt manase-

mwt In 'ilge.rta has heeI\ a controwtslal and un~~ one since I971J when It was Aid thai the NI(r:mnn ~ment firs! borrowed fruOt the International group of aeWfrIfS. II was to b.d In the 1990s and the dawn of the mlliennium thai It was advanced by IOIlIe fi:IcaI expens and ec0nomists thai rqJeymenl of our debl, or debt forgiwut'!S5 hekI. the key to ow emnomJc and nationalsW'vtva.l. 1ht! bdId was "mained by !he argumen, that "","uren thaI should have been uSfd by governments

a'

In ~natloru Wft'e used 10 servk:e debts, IMrtkuhuty foreign

debts, which ,verI! mostly takro.n under the miliary regimes and I'rittered rtr6Y by the juntas insIead of utill5lng the'n for- in&astruaun! development and hwnan capilal I!flhancement lor wkkh ~ of me loans Wfte acquired. "Ibis scrnano was the mlndsec wllil 2:006 when Nlgeria exited the Pam group of credi1or5 al a ~t cost $12 bOlioo In one fdI swoop. AI the polnl 01 exiting thedrbt trap.

or

Nigeriam are Rill bein8 haunled by the shadows of debt. Many oplnktn ieade's and fIxaI walch m had warned a couple of)'Nr5

ago mat ~ waswaIldng back

Inlo the debt-trap. bul each time tltis 11al",ened. tile Debt Management Office COMO) .M"1)'5 came out 10 aOayour fears. HMOS technl cal expbnatiom of how NJgma's deb! was still withIn the inlemaFor instance. In 2010, Olarles "'naIIy-~SoIudo.i;)nnrr~ofCentral

Bank of Nigeria (CBN). ",... med both roreign and domestic. He said, "'WhIle II was destrabie 10 eJOit the odious enem.aJ debts. there was need fof the country nol to remain unduty Wlder-bonowect to avoid holdl", bad: economic grDWIh. in spite of the heavy l'.ZIemai debt of SJ.4 bUlIon and 011 price rangIng between $25.S50 durin8 (ex. President Olusegun) Obasanjo', second IIl"m\, we managed to grow theeoonomyat aOOol6-7 percent per annwn (from or 2.8 percent in the 1990s). We started savin& (or the rainy day when aU

or the rlsln8 debt profile -

ave:rase

prices reached SJ5 and by"1lR1, despite ~$12 bIItIon to writeolTthe PadsOubdebt In 2006. wehad~ about $ZZ billion as 'Elass Qude!" Soludo ~ conc:en that govemmmt wall piling up domeRk:and rorelgn debu willi no impnwemenl In !he economy. BUllhm. the OMOreac:tec:l nepuvety Alnham NwankYou. dim:tof. gene-aI of the O~ I O. responded thai NIgma had every ~ to borrow 10 support the devclopmenl of tiM! oountry through rr:f\alin& the economy as wdI as deepening the bond market. lie poinled DUI dial N'1g'eria had. finance gap that needed 10 be filled through borrowing. 5llessing tha' In doing that, preference was glW!:n to domeslic borrowing. no! only because olthe need to rninimi§e exposure 10 exlemal vulnerability 001 abo 10 scIz.e the opponunity 10 develop the domestic debt market. The OMO bousald thai theded.sinn 10 borrow was to die advantage of bolh goverrunenl and the privale sector that are benefitins from Ionslerm funding. 'he Increased public .K'CtOf borrowtng was part of~ ­ menl', Rimulw pacbse and was a COWltes--cyd1caJ respome topnM!flt the I'COnOrny ITuni a f'ree.fall dwing the stoba! tamornk: downmm; he said. gtvIng Instances of RJCh borrowing used 10 COlInler ecGnomk dedlne to Include the N200 bUIlon released fon:ommerdalagricuJlure; the NIOO bUHon for the TNvaI of the COlton. tmile and prtnenllncf\Htzy.

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and the Nl2..S billion for the purchaw: 0(15 IocornodYes ... nUway

TIle above n!SpOmea. coming from one who should know a nd the offk:e In charg.e: of debt man.gemcnt. had gtYen us some confidence OW gm't!fnmml was on top of ow domestic debt situadon. But now. wilh lhe ~I alarm Olbed byNpmOkonjo-twmJa.minister-ol Anance and coordloa~ mlnisfer for the economy, W!'l are al • kJss. "1Jre!Iptle the fad OW the country's domesck: debt r;,do to Gross 00mesticProdua(GDP)remainedCar bdow the inlemationallhreshold. the~l_braxninsW1-

comb1ab6ewithlhedomesck:debt componml or!be country's debltn the light of the rising inlereSl files and other mk:ro- and IDilICI"O-4!'C nomic indices thaI could dlreaten thecurrmtdriYelowardmacroeconomIc:5labUlty of the economy; dwe minislersaid f'1!Q'!Itdy. She abo Aid II.. In view ol die negadYe Implications of the rising domesdc. borrowing b the healih of the economy, ~enl was delenruned 10 ensm: thai the cw-rmldometkdebc.wbk:hCUlfmlly 5laIIds at N5.96trUHon. _fl!IdUa!d 10 at-n NSOO billion In the medium lerm by20l5. M at June 2010, NIgeria's tOlal domestic debt Slodc stood al NJ.8 trillion. .."hIIe the e:lJernaI debt was put. $4.J biDion.And the lOIaI debt stod_s:aidlObeabout 14~

olGDP,aeldbelowtbelntcm;t6onal tM:shoId ofJO perocnI - meaning dial the debt _5lI5lIiOabIe. M at the lime Okonto-~ r.Ii5II!d the a1arm. thedomesUc debt has risen from N3.8 trillion 10 2010 to NS.96 ttWon In 20 12 lhis _ an ugty trend which we had been afnid of and wrlllen apInsI rew months back. 001 no one listened. in an opinion artide. -Deb! o.a1Jenge and Jonathan's Tr;,nsfonnallon "8enda: published In Daily Tnt5I ofJuly4, 20 II, one had argood:,he usual deknoe ol the guvanmenl is that NiFria Is wxb-bormwed and that NIgma's debt 1s5UStalnable. becaJ:se Itlsstill beIowJO pen::enl oItheGDP. whkh is the intematlonallhresho6d. ~iost times. !his position m.y not make much meaning in our peculiar economy. r-orlnslance. the Idea of N l2S billion Cor die revilaliJation of the raltw.Jy is qulle dishearten· Ing and Is a good remloder of tile money goaling role which the Nigeria RaI1~ has playe.d OYfr the)"NO in ttie NIgerian economy and a fast means through which pubIk: off)(Z hokSers and political technocnIlS hetp tl-oemseIves wilh public funds. Whl'.re are Ihe 2S tocomodva, and where are lhe rail tr.d:s and sysc~ Idi. In NIger1I lOr their openIUomr So. when! de _."from~l'

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BUSINESSDAY, 10 MAY, 2012