IITA: Mix cassava, wheat flour to bake bread

TANZANIA: The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is persuading bakers to start using cassava and wheat flour in making bread to reduce the dependence on the latter and reduce costs.

According to the findings of a study, cassava flour could replace between 20 per cent and 30 per cent of the wheat flour typically used to make bread without significantly impairing the leavening process that causes the dough to rise.

The IITA Head of Advocacy and Resource Mobilisation, Dr Regina Kapinga, said when receiving the delegation of over 60 people attending the African Food System summit at the institute that mixing cassava and wheat flour may lower the costs of breads as well.

“We don’t want to end up with doing only seed research but as well grain and vegetable value addition,” Dr Kapinga said as she toured visitors around the IITA premises.

Tanzania Bakeries Association (TBA) said cassava flour is good when mixed with wheat flour in baking breads by around 20 per cent.

Using cassava flour in baking loaves of bread could save the country from the burden of importing wheat.

The country primarily imports wheat from Russia spending 100 million US dollars, Australia 50.8million US dollars, Ukraine 38.7 million US dollars, Argentina 15.4million US dollars, and Canada 8.25 million US dollars annually, per  Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) data.

Additionally, the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute’s (TARI) latest data show that the production of wheat is still low 100,000 tonnes compared to the demand of 1,000,000 tonnes per year.

The imbalance forces the country to import about 90 per cent of wheat to balance consumption each year.

IITA in collaboration with TBA tested and confirmed that 20 per cent of cassava and 80 per cent of wheat can bake good bread with no difference from the one which is on the market using wheat hundred per cent in several trials.

Additionally, Dr Kapinga said they found that three types of cassava are suitable for use in baking bread and yet the bread remains good.

In addition, the delegation had the benefit of perceiving first-hand how research on various crops is carried out by IITA including visiting its laboratories for plant pathology on controlling diseases and the pathogens that cause them, soil and plant testing laboratory used to test soil fertility and plant nutrition.

Other is molecular which does research on plant viruses and their insect vectors, and food science laboratory for assess studies to support crop improve, promote value addition and reduce postharvest losses.

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