Stop lying about cassava bread – Agric Minister

by Stanley Azuakola

Cassava bread does not cause diabetes, that’s a lie from the congregation of wheat importers, so says Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina.

The minister spoke again about the matter on Thursday in Abeokuta, during the distribution of cheques to farmers under the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme, CACS, and the launch of the Growth Enhancement Support, GES, under the Agricultural Transformation Agency, ATA.

Recently, the executive forwarded a bill to the National Assembly seeking to make it compulsory for bakers to include cassava flour in the production of all flour products in the country. But the House of Representatives rejected the bill. They argued that it would not be right to compel Nigerians to eat cassava products, since about 30 to 40 per cent of Nigerians are diabetic and their doctors generally bar them from foods containing cassava.

However, Adesina advised Nigerians to ignore such talk because those who criticized the bill were only defending the interest of the importers of wheat flour.

He said: “Don’t believe what they tell you about cassava bread causing diabetes; that is a lie.

“Let me say that when it comes to the issue of cassava flour, don’t believe what those that serve the interest of those that bring in wheat to this country tell you; don’t believe it.

“I am a scientist, so I know. There is something they call glycemic index: the higher the glycemic index, the more likely that food can probably aggravate diabetes. The glycemic index of cassava, which is a thing that we all ate till we grew up to this stage, is 58 per cent.

“The glycemic index of wheat bread is 72 per cent and for those of you who like cornflakes, the glycemic index of cornflakes is 82 per cent. So which one is better?”

He also confirmed reports that only “old rice” is being imported into the country and regretted that the country wastes N635 billion importing wheat and N1 billion a day importing rice from Thailand and India.

He said: “I must tell you that the rice we actually import from those countries is 10 to 15 years, coming from the strategic grain reserve of those countries. They can’t sell them in their own countries.”

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