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 making.
Hajia Karima Babangida, Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, said this in her keynote address at a one-day workshop organised for stakeholders in the baking industry held 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, OFSP puree offered suitable alternative for composite bread baking and other confectioneries.
She added that with the inclusion of potato pure, cost of production would be brought down to about 40 per cent.
“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 also create more jobs for young Nigerians.
According to her, apart from creation of jobs for the teeming population, potato in bread baking would also improve bread’s nutritional value as it contains vitamin A.
“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 skills and knowledge to help make food more affordable in the state and the country.
In her remark, the Commissioner for Agriculture in Akwa Ibom, Dr Glory Edet, commended the Federal Government for bringing the workshop to the state.
Edet, who was represented by Mr Solomon Joe, Director Planning, Research and Strategy (PRS) in the ministry said that since almost all the materials used for baking bread were imported, there was need to look inward to 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 , saying 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 which had escalated the prices of staple foods, 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.
He said that the value addition would focus 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 the 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 to empower master bakers in the state.
Edem commended the FG for the step taken to provide alternative means of boosting bread production through the use of potatoes flour as a new means of encouragement to all bakers nationwide.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that participants at the event were drawn from the 31 local government areas of the state. (NAN)