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THE GUARDIAN,Thursday, December 22,20tt

31 Conscience is an open wound; only truth can heal it.

The cassava bread campaign


Tribute to Alex Ibru CIR: The remains of the late on October 25, 2011 titled and well-informed news JChief Alex Uniemu Ibru, "Lesson from Gaddafi" by media. The greatest tribute to founder and publisher of The Anthony Akinola was read ver- this wonderful man, Chief Alex Guardian Newspapers were batim on October 27, 2011 on [bra, will be the continuation committed to mother earth on BBC Radio 5 Live. Only heavens of The Guardian titles as not December 17, 2011 amidst great know how many millions only the harbinger of journalanguish and tributes worldwide listened to that jsn'c excellence, entertainment from Nigerians who knew this immortal article from The anc j knowledge but also an selfless, nardworking and phil- Guardian. You can imagine the institution ofservtce to anthropic compatriot. pride I felt as a Nigerian and mankind in the true spirit of I didn t have the pleasure of committed reader of The [neir well-thought out motto: meeting Chief Alex Ibru but Guardian. "Conscience Nurtured by always believed that the voice Thus one can say, without any Truth." May the soul of the of man is the voice of Cod. As I fear of contradiction, that in great man -Alex Ibru rest in have read almost all the tribThe Guardian titles, Chief Alex neace. utes paid to him in the various Ibru left a great legacy of Vincent Bamigboye Nigerian newspapers, they were [ruth,, objectivity,,apolitical glowing, to say the least.So

T A THAT looked like a funfair played out recently at a Federal Executive VVCouncil (FEC) meeting in Abuja, when President Goodluck Jonathan flaunted a loaf of bread said to be made of cassava to the distinguished members. The occasion was more hilarious than serious because cassava bread is not new in Nigeria. Cassava has been used in baking bread in the country for more than 30 years by some research institutes in the old Western Region. The oil giant, Shefl BP, also used to give cassai/a bread to its staff and customers. There is need therefore for a new way to leverage cassava production other than the President's method. More importantly perhaps, the Federal Government, if it is serious about promoting cassava bread above the normal bread that G°v Obi as Father Christmas Nigerians are used to, should explore avenues to improve the nutritive numerous admirersS inwT praying [& Governor Peter Obi has end up squandering the value of cassava bread. for the repose of his gentle soul routinely released funds to money as they await another Former President Olusegun Obasanjo canvassed for the use of cassava and wishing his family, immedi-overlOO communities in December. and extended, the grace to Anambra State through their Meanwhile, little is known of in baking bread during nis administration. He sought to encourage ate the great loss, president generals for what any serious government monbakers to use at least 10 per cent cassava in their bread manufacturing. bear ) remember in the early 80s of ne aned secliniy and devel- itoring of the earmarked projTherefore, President Jonathan was actually re-inventing the ancient The Guardian Newspapers opment projects. The money ects. And even when a greedy Reports say the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, had when one was then a iledg ing h'as -lncr^ed from N1.5 mi[. and hungry government inspector shows up, he is during the meeting presented the President with a loaf of bread said to of "BPS ffSSS m & r ge Medicine, University of quickly settled. Their subjects lion Decem in 2°°ber. s co N2 mil)ion be 40 per cent cassava, produced by the International Institute of Ibadan. I remember that when- thjs Thjs free m has become are |eft in the dark as they are ever I pay a visit to Lagos, there Tropical Agriculture (ITTA), Ibadan. f fa between continually levied to pay for town union officials as they the same projects. We do hope the President (along with the Vice President, Namadi Ojota n Vi Motor h^ng pbwith 'iSh Park the { h . » Governor Obi is therefore Sambo) fulfill his promise to eat cassava bread till he leaves office. n'Jringtherunds.Themoney advlsedtojettisonthisprac. Thereafter, he said that the Federal Government would soon roll out tice that corrupts the system is usual 'y f"«ered away as it h s was to come and start awarding contracts incentives 'to support firms using cassava in their manufacturing Passes fr°m che president to reputable firms for belter general down the line of process. He directed his ministers to come up with new policies that resufo and thereby eliminatChains of command to the would encourage the production of cassava bread in die country. ing the scandals that have so-called contractors who We believe that unless the President and his team come up with a new become great opinion f o r e r s now Pocket what is left of become; of these hand-outs. initiative to improve the quality and quantity of cassava production in and well respected newspapers what is now termed govern- ObiMgbemena, Africa and all over the world. ment money.Tlleseto^rac: Nnamdi Azikrwe University, the country, his enthusiasm on cassava bread will amount to putting inRecently an article published tors and town union officials Awka. the cart before the horse. For instance, adding nutritional value in the bread for children is necessary to promote good health and vitality for children and adult alike. Nigeria being the largest producer of cassava in the world, with about 34 million tons yearly, it is regrettable that the neglect of agriculture has over the years, caused a drastic decline in the production of cassava. The result is that the quantity of cassava produced in the country is no longer enough to meet competing demands. Cassava is used in a variety of products, including being processed into flour for making bread. It is also used for industrial starch production and also processed into gam flour, which is a staple food item in the country It could also be processed into feed for livestock. Except there is a new initiative to increase cassava production in-the country, competing demands could make die price of garri go beyond what the ordinary people could afford. In the last 10 years for instance, ganfs price has increased by several hundred per cent This is not unconnected with the high demand for it, against its slow growth rate. Perhaps, what makes the difference in President Jonathan's bread is that it was said to contain 40 per cent cassava flour. There is nothing wrong in using cassava to make oread if there is enough cassava and the economy is vibrant industrially. But none of these conditions presently applies to the country Boosting cassava production is what the country needs now. The President and his agriculture team should come up with therightinitiative in that regard. To achieve that, government should do more research. There should be a holistic approach to the issue of agricultural development in the country Ad-hoc policy measures have never worked. What happened to the policy to grow wheat, which is another component of bread? Since bread can be made from a combination of wheat and cassava as components, should we be talking of one and leaving the other? Should we be talking of cassava and leaving wheat? While working out a strategy to produce cassava, wheat production should also be included, not only because Nigerians are already accustomed to wheat bread, but also because wheat can be successfully cultivated in parts of the country. We have large expanse of arable land in the North where wheat could be produced in large quantity. That potential should be utilised effectively. We only need a holistic and committed approach to achieve that objective. ~ L


The cassava bread campaign

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