A.B. Abass, A.O. Onabolu and M. Bokanga
For several years IITA has conducted research oriented towards increasing the utilization of cassava in baking applications through the development of technologies for processing cassava flour and utilisation. These technologies were demonstrated in Nigeria through training of farmers, staff of national agricultural extension agencies, women groups, home caterers, bakers and industrial food processors. Farmer’s co-operatives, women’s groups and small-scale processors adopted cassava flour production. Caterers, bakers, biscuits and noodles factories adopted the flour for use in their recipes. A new agro-industry and trade were thus created in Nigeria. In 1996 and 1998, surveys were carried out to assess the impact of the introduction of the cassava flour technology in four south-western states of Nigeria. The data collected showed that cassava flour production generates employment opportunities in the rural areas. Out of all the cassava products made by processors, cassava flour was the easiest and cheapest to make, and the highest income generator. Substitution levels of wheat by cassava flour practised by home caterers ranged from 10% to 100%, from 5% to 20% for bread bakers from 5% to 25% for biscuit manufacture and were 10% for noodles production. Users were able to reduce their cost of production and improve the yield and quality of their products. Four major quality criteria adopted for screening cassava flour are pH (5.0- 8.0), moisture (10 – 12%), white colour, absence of odour, sand, shaft, or any contaminants. Although the use of cassava flour in the baking industry is technically possible and appears economically beneficial to processors, fanners and users alike, its production and use are still hindered by the unorganised state of its marketing structure. While producers consider low market demand as one of the critical problems, major users complained of not getting consistent supply of good quality cassava flour. The use of high levels of cassava flour in bread baking is claimed by bakers to be hindered by the low quality of wheat flow available in the common market. These problems constrain the development of cassava flour as a major industrial commodity in Nigeria.