China To Partner Nigeria In Cutting N350b Rice Import

deng-boqingEconomic Perspectives On 40-per cent Cassava Bread, By Expert

TO stem the tide of increasing annual rice import bill of N350bn, China would lend her expertise in the area of rice cultivation, where it has excelled.

Chinese Ambassador, Deng Boqing, pledged during a courtesy visit to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, spoke of his country’s readiness to strengthen the bilateral ties with the country thouh th ministry.

Adesina, who received the envoy in his office, stated that there was a lot to learn from the Chinese, who produce 12 tons of hybrid rice per hectare as against two tons done locally.

“ Our consumption capacity of five million tons of rice per year will grow to 35million by 2050, hence we must put in place a system that will guarantee our self sufficiency, and the Chinese model is our best option,” Adesina said.

In a similar development, the Minister visited the CHMC, a commercial cassava processing company, where cassava is utilised from the leaves to roots. He said there are plans to establish 18 cassava processing plants that will produce 1.5million tons of cassava flour and other allied products annually.

AS the Ministry of Agriculture follows through with its initiative on high content of cassava flour in bread, as opposed to the whole-wheat bread, a set of data recently shared by a large-scale indigenous bakery indicates that the success of the four-per cent cassava flour bread would, create employment, reduce the cost of bread in the country and curtail dependence on import.

For example, wheat flour constitutes 58.2 per cent of the cost of a N200 loaf of 100 per cent wheat flour-based bread.

This means that N116.36, out of every N200 per loaf, goes to the United States, while N62.8 (or 31.4 per cent) spent on water goes to Nigeria; 5.2 per cent, or N10.47, on sugar is shared between Nigeria and Brazil; 2.9 per cent (or N5.82) is spent on importing margarine from Malaysia and Indonesia; N2.09, or 1.0 per cent, spent on salt, obtained in Nigeria; N0.93 or 0.5 per cent goes to France and China on importation of flavour; the same amount and percentage goes to China, France and the European Union on yeast importation.

Also, 0.3 per cent, or N0.56, is spent on preservatives from Germany and China.

“If we consider 40 percent cassava bread, then we will be reducing the 58.2 per cent that goes to the US down to N69.82, while we spend the difference (N46.54) in creating business opportunity for Nigeria and Nigeria, thereby developing the economy in this country,” the source said.

The industry source said the margarine used for bread making could be produced locally, precluding the need to import from Malaysia and Indonesia, which has traditionally become the source of the bulk of margarine used in the bakery and confectionery industry.

“The palm oil transformation team, under the Minister of Agriculture’s initiative, has an opportunity to rise to the rescue of the country, helping the country to save billions of Naira from being further frittered away in foreign exchange.

“The problems occasioned by importation of palm oil can be handled in an integrated manner through an awareness among the stakeholders. Palm oil producers need to know of the array of industrial users who use palm oil as raw materials (as in margarine makers),” the source concluded.


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