Minister of Agriculture faults House of Reps arguments on cassava bread

Channels Television  
Updated May 25, 2012

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural development, Akinwunmi Adeshina has asked Nigerians to disregard rumours making the rounds in some quarters that cassava consumption is not healthy for diabetic patients.

The Minister, who disclosed this while addressing journalists in Abuja, said adding cassava to bread will not in any way affect the health of Nigerians.

“The statement credited to some, that cassava consumption is not good for those with diabetes is wholesomely untrue, scientifically baseless, and it’s a deliberate attempt to misinform Nigerians,” Mr Adeshina said.

The Minister quoted the President of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Ignatius Onimawo as saying “Adding cassava flour will not increase the glycemic index of bread, it will not aggravate diabetes. In fact, it will lower diabetes. The glycemic index of wheat flour is higher than that of cassava. It is only whole wheat bread, that is to say wheat flour with the brand intact that has a lower glycemic index.”

Mr Adeshina said that the statement that about 20 -30 percent or more of Nigerians are diabetic is “totally misleading”.

“According to the nutrition experts, the percentage of Nigerians suffering from diabetes has been on the increase but not to the alarming figures that are said to be something as high as 45 percent,” he said.

He said no national survey has been conducted to determine the actual prevalence of diabetes in Nigeria.

The Minister said that the Federal Government is willing to transform the nation’s economy through an increase in cassava production which currently stands at forty million tonnes annually.

He said that the nation is also doing all it can to stop the importation of wheat put at $635 billion dollars.

A member of the House of Representatives, Peter Edeh (PDP, Edo), who led an opposition against the bill during a debate on a bill titled: “A bill for an act to provide for the mandatory inclusion of cassava in the production of all flour in Nigeria and for other matters connected therewith,” on Wednesday, argued that compelling manufacturers of flour to include cassava would amount to compelling Nigerians to eat products that may be injurious to their health.

“30 to 40 per cent of Nigerians are diabetic and it will be unfair to compel them to eat cassava products since most diabetic patients are barred from consuming foods such as cassava,” he had said.