The Federal Government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has sensitized bakers and caterers in Akwa Ibom State on the benefits of introducing Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) puree into bread baking.
The sensitisation was carried out by Hajia Karima Babangida, Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, in her keynote address at a one-day workshop organised for stakeholders in the baking industry held in De-Wieggan bakery, Ikot Ekpene, Wednesday..
Represented by Dr Uyobong Uko, State Coordinator, Green House in Akwa Ibom, she said that in the light of the recent increase in the prices of bread and some staples, OFSP puree offers a suitable alternative for composite bread baking and other confectionery.
She added that the inclusion of potatoes puree would help bring down the cost of production of bread by 40 percent.
“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 a 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, adding that, apart from the creation of jobs for the teeming population, potato in bread baking would also improve on the 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 a 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 precursor of vitamin A makes it to be adequate food to boost the 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 the requisite skill and knowledge to help make food more affordable in the state and country.
In her remarks, the Commissioner fo Agriculture in Akwa Ibom, Dr Glory Edet, commended the federal government in bringing the workshop to stakeholders in Akwa Ibom.
The commissioner represented by Mr. Solomon Joe, Director, PRS in the ministry said since almost all the materials used for baking bread were imported, there was a need to look inward to potato puree in baking bread.
She said as part of measures to ensure availability, the state government has concluded a plan to establish a puree factory in the state and urged farmers in the state to commence planting potatoes in large quantities as they 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 has led to escalated prices of staple food, OFSP was becoming one of the best alternatives.
Oyediran said the production and cultivation of OFSP were 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 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 through the ministry to empower master bakers in the state toward raw materials scarcity as a result of the 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 potatoes flour as a new means of encouragement to all bakers nationwide.