National Association of Nigerian Traders, NANTS, Voices for Food Security, VFS, and Association of Small Scale Agro Producers in Nigeria, ASSAPIN, have jointly denounced the recent increase in the price of bread, saying it was not in the interest of bakers and the economy.
Reacting to the increase in prices of bread as a result of increase in tariff of imported wheat, the traders said “It has come to our notice that the Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria has announced a 20 per cent increase in bread prices, following the introduction of the additional 15 per cent on imported wheat.
They said: “While we concede to the opinions expressed by wheat bread makers that the installation and other associated machinery costs will add to the production costs of bread, we however, insist that such costs are only ephemeral and also in their own overall output interest.
“We argue that rather than increase the price of bread, bakers should show appreciation to government for the incentive of reducing the tariff burden on their raw material input and therefore desist from unnecessary vendetta impeding the security and right to food of innocent citizens.
“We, therefore implore all forward-looking citizens to resist all attempts by any group to mortgage the future of the country with colossal and superfluous importations when we have local substitutes”.
In a joint statement by Adenekan Adeshile, Commercial Officer, NANTS on behalf of NANTS and Voices for Food Security said “We refuse to admit the controversy making rounds that ‘cassava bread is an idea whose time has not yet arrived’. We rather insist on the glaring immediate and future potentials of cassava, reiterating that the new policy is backed up by the fact that Nigeria remains currently the largest producer of this agric commodity in the world and must, therefore, make use of this comparative advantage and opportunity to diversify the economy and lift her people out of poverty.
“We continue to advise Nigerian bakeries to adapt and make changes on their current production practices to fall in line with government’s requirements for blending of cassava flour in bread. Noting that such changes necessitate retraining of staff.
We also advise bakeries to patiently explore the provisions of the Cassava Bread Development Fund created by government to mitigate the need without unnecessarily jeopardizing the huge potential benefits to their investments and the overall positive impact on the nation’s economy. We must congratulate and salute the courage and vision of UTC bakeries for already adapting to the current policy”.
He said the idea that “the required expansion of cassava production to meet government blending targets is ‘not feasible’ in the short term, particularly given political unrest in the northern part of Nigeria was not tenable saying “We strongly argue and advise that political unrest is only a light turbulence which the country would soon pass over.
In any case, many states in Nigeria’s South, East and West are huge producers of cassava and the movement of the raw material should not pose a problem since wheat which lands at Lagos ports is also always transported unhindered by millers and/or bakers to their production bases across Nigeria.