Some few months ago I read a post in punch newspaper written by an author in the name Tunde Fabunmi entitled “ Why I will not eat cassava bread.” I have decided to write a summary of it for my blog visitors to learn something from it. WHY CASSAVA
The federal government of Nigeria has been promoting the use of cassava for bread production in order to reduce foreign exchange spending on the importation of wheat. At least that is one of the major reasons given. This has attracted much reaction from the public .while some said the intention of the federal government is good, some criticize the government because for them cassava is not edible and nutritional enough. Among the critics is Mr Tunde Fabunmi whom I mentioned earlier. Some of the reasons he cited for his motion against using cassava for bread production especially in Nigeria are explained in my paragraphs below.
One, he said cassava is rated as one of the 10 most dangerous foods. He said cassava contains toxins including cyanide, linamarin and lotaustrain, which can damage the kidney, liver as well as the brain. Some of the illnesses associated with long consumption of cassava especially in Africa and Latin America are poor vision and hearing, trouble walking which can result to total paralysis. Other effects of cyanide poisoning are dizziness, agitation, headache, comma, confusion and convulsions.
The second reason he gave was the poor nature by which cassava are being processed. Though, he affirmed that Nigeria traditional way of grating and soaking cassava for days to make garri and lafun is good as soaking helps to leach out the poisonous cyanide but his questions are, how is the cassava flour to bake bread is being or will be processed? Who determines and monitors the proper processing of cassava flour to bake bread for mass consumption in a country like Nigeria where anything goes?
Another reason is the challenge of getting good specie of cassava with low concentration of cyanide in Nigeria to be use in the baking of bread. Again his questions are: what is the level of cyanide in the species of cassava being planted in Nigeria? How many species of cassava are being cultivated by farmers across the country? Where do the farmers get the cuttings of good cassava species to plant? Indeed, you will all agree with me that those are good questions to ask.
Also, the writer cited that cassava is very low in protein, vitamins and other essential micronutrients to the extent that it can lead to malnutrition among the populace if Nigeria decided to use it as the basic flour for baking bread. He said because cassava is an acid-forming food, regular consumption can displace the balance of PH, which in return can make the body to be prone to degenerating diseases such as diabetes, cancer, hypertension, different form of heart diseases, arthritis and glaucoma. Toxic component in cassava can cause brain damage related to pituitary gland that causes other damage to various organs.
He cited an example of Japan where the Japanese Ministry of Health prohibits the use of cassava as human food. His documentation goes:
“ Over 100 years ago, a group of Japanese immigrants went to Brazil for coffee planting in search of greener pasture when Japan was down the ladder economically. However, the Japanese immigrants did not get the initial support of foods and farmlands promised by the Brazilian government. Consequently, the Japanese immigrants planted cassava just to survive and many of them died due to cassava poisoning. In fact, in the records of Japanese immigrants to Brazil, only three Japanese survived up to the end of the Second World War.”
The writer decided not to eat bread baked with cassava because of all the aforementioned reasons. After reading this article, do you think cassava bread will be good for human consumption so massive like that envisage by Nigeria government?