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I.Coast is looking for cassava for its bread as wheat prices soar

#I.Coast #cassava #bread #wheat #prices #soar

As wheat prices are pushed up by the war in Ukraine, bakers in the West African state of Ivory Coast are beginning to use locally produced cassava flour to bake bread.

The baguette, the baguette very popular in the former French colony, is commonly considered a measure of the cost of living.

But Côte d’Ivoire does not produce wheat domestically, instead importing up to a million tons of the grain a year, mostly from France.

Soaring wheat prices have fueled concerns about the impact in a country of 25 million people, where the average wage is less than 250,000 CFA francs ($400) a month, and which was rocked by a spate of violence less than two years ago .

Both Ukraine and Russia are big wheat producers, and crop failures and other uncertainties have pushed up prices for the world staple.

In response, the Ivorian authorities have priced a baguette at between 150 and 200 CFA francs (US$0.25 to 0.30), depending on weight, and have granted subsidies worth 6.4 billion CFA francs (about US$10). million US dollars) to the country’s 2,500 bakeries.

With government support, bakers are also beginning to replace a small portion of wheat flour with flour made from cassava, a root vegetable.

Cassava, also known as cassava, is Ivory Coast’s second largest crop after yam, producing 6.4 million tons per year.

– ‘New Flavors’ –

The cassava substitution plan meets the requirements of economy and sustainability. But what do the Ivorians think?

“Everything has become expensive in the market,” said Honorine Kouamee, a food vendor in Abidjan’s Blockhaus district, who cooked pancakes made from wheat mixed with coconut flour.

“If we can bake bread with local cassava flour, it will be better. People are willing to eat local produce.”

The national consumer association has backed the cassava substitute.

“It will incentivize cassava producers and keep the price of bread up,” said its president Jean-Baptiste Koffi.

But image and taste are important and some bakers are cautious.

“It’s not a done deal,” said Rene Diby, a baker.

“For the Ivorians, bread made from cassava is associated with inferior bread. Consumers need to be made aware of these new flavors.”

Authorities must conduct a publicity campaign, he said.

Cassava is high in starch and a good source of fiber.

But high levels of cassava flour lower the mineral and protein content in bread compared to conventional wheat, a 2014 study from Nigeria found.

Financially, even using just a small portion of cassava flour would relieve the government.

Last year, 10 percent of the state budget of around $16 billion was spent on food imports, despite the country’s fertile soil.

Ranie-Didice Bah Kone, executive secretary of the state’s National Council for the Fight against the High Cost of Living (CNLCV), says it’s time to unlock Ivory Coast’s agricultural potential.

“It’s about thinking about our food security in the long term, it’s about thinking about how Ivory Coast will ensure that it is less dependent on world market prices,” she said.

Visiting a cassava flour processing factory in Abidjan, she called for immediate action to increase the supply of local flour, in addition to subsidies for the wheat sector.

– ‘Bake Africanizing’ –

Concerns in West Africa about dependence on imported wheat are not limited to Ivory Coast.

On July 19, bakers from across West Africa will meet in the Senegalese capital Dakar to form an association committed to setting a regional benchmark for introducing up to 15 percent local content in bread products.

Using local produce in bread could “solve food crises,” said Marius Abe Ake, who runs a bakers’ association.

“We must Africanize baking to reduce manufacturing costs, fight poverty and avoid harmful civil unrest.”

Ivory Coast has a history of turbulence.

Scores of people died in 2020 in pre-election violence, an episode that evoked traumatic memories of a brief civil war in 2011 that killed several thousand people.

Riots broke out in 2008 as prices for rice, milk and meat soared.

Social Tags:
#I.Coast #cassava #bread #wheat #prices #soar

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