The Federal Government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has sensitised bakers and caterers in Akwa Ibom on the benefits of the inclusion of Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) puree in bread baking.
Hajia Karima Babangida, Director, Federal Department of Agriculture said this in her keynote address at the one-day workshop organised for stakeholders in the baking industry in De-Wieggan bakery, Ikot Ekpene on Thursday.
Babangida, who was represented by Dr. Uyobong Uko, State Coordinator, Green House in Akwa Ibom said that in the light of the recent increase in the price of bread and some staples, OFSP puree offers suitable alternative for composite bread baking and other confectionery.
She added that it would help to bring down the cost of production of bread through 40 per cent inclusion of potatoe puree.
“In the pursuit of food security and nutrition for our country, OFSP is readily available to be utilised and processed into various products, to achieve these value addition objectives.
“There are lot of product development potentials from Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato needed to be brought to the awareness of bakers and caterers in the catering and baking industry,” Babangida said.
The director said the inclusion of the potato puree in bread baking would look at the direction of product development to create more jobs for young Nigerians.
According to her, apart from creation of jobs for the teeming population, potato in bread baking would also improved on nutritional value as it contains vitamin A nutrient.
“It is very important to look in the direction of product development to create jobs for the teeming youths as well as source of income generation for our women.
“There is no controversy that the health and wealth benefits of OFSP due to its beta carotene content which is a pre-cursor of vitamin A makes it to be adequate food to boost immune system of the elderly and helps in combating Vitamin A deficiency among children,” she said.
She urged participants at the workshop to make good use of the opportunity offered and acquire requisite skill and knowledge to help make food more affordable in the state and country.
In her remarks, the Commissioner for Agriculture in Akwa Ibom, Dr Glory Edet, commended the federal government for bringing the workshop to stakeholders in Akwa Ibom.
Edet, who was represented by Mr. Solomon Joe, Director, PRS in the ministry said that since almost all the materials used for baking bread were imported, there was need to look inward in potato puree in baking bread.
She said that as part of measures to ensure availability, the state government has concluded plan to establish a puree factory in the state.
She urged farmers in the state to commence planting of potatoes in large quantities in the state as it could grow easily across the state.
In his paper titled; “Orange Flesh Sweet Potato (OFSP) Value Addition for the Nutrition Security and Sustainable Income Generation in Nigeria” Dr Wasiu Oyediran, said that given the prevailing economic crisis in Nigeria that has escalated the prices of staple food, OFSP was becoming one of the best alternatives.
Oyediran said the production and cultivation of OFSP was on the increase in Nigeria, adding that the country is the single largest producer of OFSP in Africa while China is the second.
He said that the value addition focuses on perishable crops after harvest to reduce losses, enhance financial and nutritional crop-value, and ensure food safety.
“Adding value to OFSP offers good potential for income generation and employment as well as for enhanced utilisation of the crop.
“This provides a means of reducing poverty, improving food security and nutrition by developing small and micro-enterprises by commercializing OFSP and potato-based foods and feeds,” he said.
Responding on behalf of Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria, Akwa Ibom branch, the state Chairman, Mr Edem Edem, said the workshop was another bold effort by the federal government through the ministry to empower master bakers in the state toward raw materials scarcity as a result of high cost of imported wheat.
Edem commended the FG for the step taken to provide alternative means of boosting bread production through the use of potatoe flour as a new means of encouragement to all bakers nationwide.