Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said this while addressing State House correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting.
She said the President had agreed to make the importation of cassava-enhancing enzymes into the country duty-free.
The minister said that the Federal Government had also resolved to place additional levies on the importation of wheat.
Okonjo-Iweala recalled that the President had during his budget speech last year announced that wheat flour, which used to attract 35 per cent, would from July 1 attract not just a duty rate of 35 per cent but a 65 per cent levy.
She said the money that would be realised from the levies would be put in a special fund to assist in the production of cassava bread.
She said, “The quantity of the cassava-enhancing enzymes used in the production of cassava bread is not sufficient here and so much are being imported.
“The import duty rate on the enzymes will be reduced from 10 per cent to zero per cent.”
The minister also said, “There will be levies on import of wheat. The levies will be put into Cassava Bread Development Fund to be used to support the development of the value chain up to the production of the bread.
“It will help produce the cassava bread in the needed quantity. Relevant agencies and ministers would manage the fund. From the fund also, some credit support and enhancement would be provided for small millers.”
She said, “We need to encourage the millers and the master bakers and therefore we will use this fund to support research, experimentation, bringing in of new equipment so that there will be new modular technology that is going to come in and we want to support the decentralisation of milling and baking.”
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, said with the cassava bread initiative, the nation would be saving the N635bn being spent on the importation of wheat.
Adesina said the government would not fold its hands and allow Nigeria to remain a slave to wheat importers.
The minister faulted the claims that cassava had adverse effects on people’s health, saying “Cassava bread is cheaper and healthier.”
He said other incentives being planned to boost the policy would bear in mind that master bakers in the country would require new training and equipment to enable them to effectively and efficiently implement the cassava bread initiative.