Barbadian Schoolchildren give Cassava buns a stamp of approval

Fifty school children gave cassava buns a ‘thumbs up‘ during a tour of the facilities of the Barbados Agricultural Development Marketing Corporation (BADMC), which took place on Friday 22 May.

The BADMC used the opportunity to sensitise the Class 2 students from the Hindsbury Primary School to the health benefits of the cassava crop and to the manufacturing process of cassava flour.

The BADMC used the opportunity to sensitise the Class 2 students from the Hindsbury Primary School to the health benefits of the cassava crop and to the manufacturing process of cassava flour.

After the tour, BADMC’s staff offered the children and their teachers cassava buns that were prepared by Purity Bakery for the event. The buns, which were made with 40% cassava flour and grated cassava, obtained overwhelmingly positive feedback from the group, who was delighted and impressed with the taste of the baked goods.

The Ministry of Agriculture, the BADMC, Purity Bakery and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) form part of the Barbados National Cassava Committee, which is spearheading the revitalisation of the island’s cassava industry.

Mr Ian Eastman, BADMC’s Agribusiness Development Officer acknowledged that one of the major hindrances to the development of the cassava industry is the high manufacturing and production cost of cassava by-products. Mr Eastman welcomed the partnership between the FAO, the Ministry of Agriculture, the BADMC and Purity Bakery, which he said, is collectively working towards a reduction of the production costs so that the ‘cassava value chain‘, which comprises farmers, suppliers, producers, and consumers, can all benefit from the crop, which he praised for its high nutritional value.

The BADMC, whose mandate it is to ensure the island’s competitive and sustainable agricultural development, is now better positioned to do so, thanks to the FAO’s provision of a high-powered Cassava Grinder machine.

Purity Bakery, the island’s largest bakery, along with other bakeries, received training from the Caribbean Agri-business Association (CABA) on the techniques of cassava bread-baking during a Cassava and Sweet Potato Development Seminar and Mission, which was held May 11-13 and coordinated by the FAO. The bakery is playing a pivotal role in facilitating the large-scale production and testing of baked cassava products.

When market and product testing has concluded, attempts will be made to market baked cassava products such as cassava buns, to the island’s school feeding programme and to the general public.

Greater adoption of cassava and locally-grown tubers can reduce the region’s high food import bill and promote healthy diets.

According to the FAO, the cassava crop can contribute to a reduction of CARICOM’s high import bill, much of which is spent on wheaten flour and other products that can be replaced with healthier substitutes such as cassava. Estimates indicate that cassava on its own can substitute up to 5% of imported wheaten flour.

Cassava is not only delicious, but also healthy, as it contains vitamins B, potassium, and carbohydrates. It is also gluten-free and is a high-fibre food. A wider adoption of local crops and tubers such as cassava can play a vital role in reducing the incidence rates of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which are on the rise, due in part, to poor diets.

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