The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, on Thursday in Abuja unveiled plantain bread made by the Concerned Youth Empowerment Association of Nigeria (CYEN).
Represented by the Deputy Director, Gender and Youth in the ministry, Karima Babangida, Ogbeh said the development had come at a time when unemployment, diabetes, obesity, cancer were on the rise.
He said bread was commonly eaten across the country but for medical reasons, some were unable to eat the regular wheat or cassava bread.
The minister said the association provided a healthier option to cassava and wheat bread for those with health challenges.
“Plantains are so versatile and nutritious; if you are looking for flour alternative, then, look no further because you can make pizza, chips, bread, dessert and many more from plantain flour.
“The demand is on the increase due to increase awareness of its health benefits; it is rich in iron, Vitamin A, B, C, magnesium and phosphorus.
“It has high resistant starch which helps to make people slimmer and healthier, they are diuretic and can help prevent ulcer, kidney and bladder problems and are essential for healthy pregnancy,” he said.
Ogbeh urged youth in the country to avail themselves of the exciting opportunities that abound in agricultural sector.
The minister said the agric sector needed youth participant to change the labour composition and replace aging farmers.
The National President of the association, Noble Adelu, said the initiative was driven by patriotic concern to cut down the rate of food importation into the country.
Adelu said the initiative would build the monetary value of the Naira for a robust economy and enhance the use farm produce for the production of medical and prophylactic product.
“As concerned Nigerians, CYEN wants to see a better Nigeria and so we went into research and we discovered that we could make use of plantain flour in place of wheat flour which we import to make bread.
“The flour can be used to bake bread, cake, make `fufu’ and other pastries,’’ he said.
The president said when the initiative is expanded it would create jobs along the value chain and create market for plantain farmers across the country.
He said there had been no realistic support from the Federal Government, saying that funds to support young farmers in CBN’s custody have stringent and unrealistic conditions attached.
In his remarks, the Director-General, National Board for Technology Incubation (NBTI), Mohammed Jibrin, said depending on importation of wheat flour was a “rape of our economy”.
Mr. Jibrin said Nigeria could not move out of recession if it continued to spend six billion dollars on wheat importation annually.
He said the innovation would save the country billions of dollars and ensures more nutritious option for wheat.
The director-general said promotion of innovative entrepreneur ventures was the core mandate of NBTI, saying that it shall marshal all its arsenals to ensure the initiative succeeds. (NAN)