A Master Baker, Mr. Thomas Odey on Wednesday said that quality bread in Nigeria was gradually becoming exclusive to the rich in the society because of its cost.
Odey disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency in Calabar while reacting to the high cost of flour and other condiments for the production of bread and other confectioneries.
The baker, who is the Director of Canaan Delight Bakery, Nigeria Limited, said the cost of producing bread had become extremely high that a lot of bakeries in Calabar were either shut down or contemplating doing so.
“Today, quality bread has become the food for the rich, and many bakers without consciences are using adulterated materials such as saccharine to augment because the market is not controlled.
“As of January, a 50 kilograms bag of wheat flour was between N16,000 and N17,500 but today, it is N28,000 in the market; sugar was between N15,000 to N16,000 while today, it goes for N28,500.
“The vegetable oil we use in baking was sold for N19,000 per 20 liters earlier in the year but is presently sold at N28,000; yeast was sold at N12,000 for a carton of 20 packets of 20 grams each, but now it is around N21,500,” he said.
Speaking further, Odey noted that due to the poor power supply, the bakeries relied on diesel to power their generators but the price of the product is now over N800 per liter and still scarce.
He said depending on the capacity of your bakery, you could use as much as 200 to 250 liters of diesel daily and when you multiply it by N800, you will see how much is consumed.
“This is why bakers, under the auspices of Master Bakers of Nigeria, are contemplating two weeks nationwide strike to protest the high cost of flour and other baking materials in the nation.
“The strike option may be necessary to get the attention of the Federal Government on the challenges bakers go through to ensure a steady supply of bread and other confectioneries.
“Even the Bank of Industry (BOI) that was created to give loans to small and medium scale businesses has cumbersome criteria such as a landed property or a level 15 officer in the Civil Service as surety,” he said.
He said if the government, both at the state and federal levels, channeled their attention to agriculture without paying just lip service, the nation would do better in wheat production because Nigeria had the land.
He added that the war in Ukraine had affected the supply of wheat but if the federal and state governments had paid attention to agriculture and curbed insecurity, wheat cobebeen cultivated in the northern part of Nigeria instead of too much attention to oil.