The Food Research Institute (FRI) of the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in collaboration with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), have embarked on a technological project to afford local investors the opportunity to use composite flour made from roots, tubers and other legumes to produce bakery products.
The new technologies, which combine cassava, sweet potato, cocoyam as well as maize, sorghum, millet, rice and cowpea developed into alternative food flour, would help cut down the increasing cost of wheat flour, which is imported into the country for use to prepare bread, biscuits, doughnuts, cakes and other pastry products.
In view of this, an investors’ forum and exhibition aim at enhancing investors-research partnership for improved agricultural productivity was held by the FRI in Accra on Tuesday to bring together investors and agro-processors to appreciate the technologies and products that have been developed.
Dubbed “Investors forum and exhibition of WAAPP 2A products,” the forum forms part of a 10-year project called “West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme” – Ghana initiated by ECOWAS with funds from the World Bank.
The CSIR with its affiliate institutions are implementing the project in Ghana.
The goal of WAAPP2A, which falls under the second phase of the project to be run for five more years, is to improve agricultural productivity by emphasizing sub-regional integration to promote shared growth and reduce poverty.
Dr Mrs Rose Emma Entsua-Mensah, Deputy Director General, CSIR said in Ghana root and tubers, as well as cereal and legume crops were major stable food and that the average Ghanaian consumed more root and tuber based foods more than five occasions in a week and cereal and legume based crops more than six occasions in a week.
She said root, tubers, cereal and legumes crops also contributed significantly to the alleviation of food security concerns in Ghana, the sub-region and the African continent as a whole despite their high production cost, and post-harvest loses that continue to increased their prices over the years.
She explained that enhanced production and better technologies for on-farm, storage, processed products and markets were the key components to improve the livelihoods of farmers, rural and urban dwellers and simultaneously improve the nutrition and food security in Ghana, the sub-region and Africa.
Dr Entsua-Mensah said investors should therefore buy into the newly developed composite flour technologies and products for commercialization as well as network, and make use of the expertise at the CSIR-FRI to better their lots and that of local framers.
Dr Charles Tortoe, Senior Research Scientist at CSIR-FRI, who presented a paper on activities of WAAPP 2A, said the use of alternative food flours for baking had already been introduced under a capacity and capability building of local bakers and educational institutions in coastal communities.
He explained that the project developed the capacity of processors, bakers and matrons of Senior High Schools (SHS) and training colleges in the Western, Central and Greater Accra regions in processing and utilization of Sweet Potato Flour (SPF), High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF), Corn Flour (CF) and Cowpea Flour (CpF).
He noted that 56 community bakers and pastry workers were also trained in the use of the alternative flour technologies, representing about 93 per cent of targeted beneficiaries.
Another 27 matrons of educational institutions were also trained in the adoption of the flour technologies for their various institutions, representing 68 per cent of the total number of schools targeted while a total of 15 processors drawn from the three project locations were successfully trained and given certificates.
Dr Tortoe explained that WAAPP 2A readily falls within the CSIR-FRI main mandate of generating and disseminating technologies as well as providing technical, analytical, training and consultancy services in the area of food processing and engineering, food nutrition and socio-economics, food chemistry and food microbiology to meet the demands of the nation.
He asked investors, entrepreneurs, industrialists, processors, exporters and small and medium scale enterprises to take-up these technologies as CSIR-FRI was ready to assist and backstop adoption of these new technologies.
He said processor groups had been formed in the Volta, Eastern, Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions and that most of the matrons in SHS in the Volta Region especially, were using the composite flour to bake various products for students.
Mrs Azara Ali Mamshie, WAAPP National Coordinator, MOFA, said the first phase of the programme, which started in 2007 was extended into the second phase in Ghana because of the extent of results achieved under the first one.
She said WAAPP2A was expected to meet a target of 700,000 beneficiaries in Ghana at the end of the programme, which 40 per cent of the beneficiaries were expected to be women.
She said the FRI was also expected to play significant role by adding value to these local commodities through improved technologies as well as to reach at least 150,000 processors, who had adopted at least one of the new processing technology at the end of the five-year period.
Dr Osman Gyasi, Representative of the World Bank, told the Ghana News Agency that 13 countries in West Africa were implementing the WAAPP projects and that the two others, Cape Verde and Guinea, would soon be added on so that the target of increasing agricultural productivity in the sub-region could be attained.
He said World Bank was also supporting the project to help reduce poverty and hunger in the world and asked researchers to partner with private sector and other investors to adopt the technologies and commercialise them.