The Crop Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR- CRI) is pushing for a speedy passage of a policy on composite flour to drive local cassava production.
Launched in 2008, the policy will allow cassava to be processed into flour with a combination of wheat for industrial use.
Director of Crop Research, Dr. Stella Ennin says combination of the two products will provide a cheaper alternative of high cost of wheat flour.
“We are looking at the policy for composite flour so that every wheat flour can have at least 5, 10 or to up to 30 per cent of cassava flour as a mixture”.
Cassava, according to a research by the Crop Research institute reveals occupies 840,000 hectares of farmland in Ghana, contributing about 22 per cent Agricultural Gross Domestic Product.
Produced by over 70 per cent of Ghanaian farmers, cassava is consumed by more than 80 per cent of the population, indicating its importance in food security.
The research institute since its inception has released seventeen improved cassava varieties onto the market to deal with issues such as pest, diseases and climate change.
Emerging markets however are gradually shifting attention from cassava as food security crop to an industrial commodity.
It is mostly selected for processing into starch and other intermediary products.
But in the face of this, government continues to import wheat flour to the tune of about 5 million US dollars annually.
Dr. Ennin believes the policy when passed, will help reduce the importation of wheat flour and save Ghana some money.
This will therefore boost the flour industry as well as the local cassava production thereby improving livelihoods of farmers.
The Chinese government realizing the potential of cassava last year announced its readiness to export a lot of cassava chips from Ghana.
Though Ghana can equally meet demands of emerging markets, the benefits are yet to be tapped in the absent of regulations to back composite flour.
But at a recent forum in Kumasi, officials of the Food and Agriculture Ministry revealed the policy on composite flour is at the cabinet level.
Players in the agricultural value chain have been appealing to government to understand the need to promote made in Ghana goods through the speedy passage of the policy.
Chief Research Scientist at CSIR, Professor Paa Nii Johnson believes cassava has the potential to change the fortunes of Ghana only if it well developed.
“Its potential to supply raw materials for local and international starch-based industries is gaining prominence and currently, cassava is being processed into starch, high quality cassava flour, adhesives for wood industry and alcoholic beverages and feed for livestock”. Prof Johnson intimated.
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