By Abdul Rahman Bangura–
NEW AFRICA BUSINESS NEWS (NABN) Freetown, Sierra Leone – As wheat prices are propelled by the war in Ukraine, bakers in Ivory Coast are beginning to utilize locally manufactured cassava flour to bake bread.
The baguette, the stick of bread that is much loved in the former French colony, is generally recognized as a criterion of the cost of living. None the less, Ivory Coast does not produce wheat domestically, rather importing up to a million tones of the grain per year, primarily from France.
Rising wheat costs have fired suspicion about the aftermath in a nation of 25 million where the regular salary is less than 250,000 CFA francs ($400) per month, and which was twitched by a wave of violence less than two years ago.
Ivorian administrations have said the price of a baguette at between 150 and 200 CFA francs ($0.25 and $0.30) relying on weight, channeling subsidies worth 6.4 billion CFA francs (about $10 million) to the nation’s 2,500 bakeries.
Bakers, with the administration’s assistance, are similarly beginning to barter a portable quantity of wheat flour with flour from cassava, a root vegetable.
Cassava, similarly named as manioc, is Ivory Coast’s second largest crop after yam, with 6.4 million tones generated each year. The cassava change proposal throbs the boxes for economy and sustainability.
“Everything has become expensive in the market,” Honorine Kouamee, a food vendor in Abidjan’s Blockhaus District who was cooking pancakes made of wheat mixed with coconut flour stated.
“If we can make bread with local cassava flour it will be better. People are willing to eat local products.”
The national consumers’ confederation has tossed its assistance behind the cassava substitute.
“It will provide a stimulus for manioc producers and maintain the price of bread,” stated its President – Jean Baptiste Koffi.
“For Ivorians, bread made with cassava is associated with poor-quality bread. Consumers will have to be made aware of these new flavors.”
Cassava is high in starch and is a good source of dietary fiber.
Thus, high proportions of cassava flour lower the mineral and protein content in bread, compared with traditional wheat, a 2014 study in Nigeria found.
Financially, even using just a tiny quantity of cassava flour would furnish the administration with some solace.
In 2021, 10% of the national budget of around $16 billion was expended on food imports, despite the nation’s rich soil.