Don urges varsities to lead cassava research
A Professor of Biochemical Toxicologist Polycarp, Nnacheta Okafor has advised universities of agriculture to take the lead in spearheading cassava research.
The don, who spoke on the topic: “Metabolism Of Cassava Cyanide and Jim Jones Cyanide in Humans,” during the 52nd inaugural lecture of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State, said one of their research findings has shown that there is a novel way of producing cassava flakes (garri) with low glycemic index and residual cyanide and would thus serve as food for diabetic patients.
He said cassava still holds great potential in social and economic growth of Nigeria, being staple food for millions and contributing meaningfully to food security without compromising food safety.
Prof. Okafor pointed out that it has also been demonstrated beyond all reasonable doubt by an industry that has been using it (cassava) as part of its major raw material.
He tasked the university, which he said is endowed with adequate intellectuals and situated in an agricultural supportive environment, to provide adequate food security and food safety for South Eastern Nigeria and beyond.
According to him, “If De-United Foods Industries Ltd can transform cassava roots, a neglected root crop into a popular and acceptable food for both the young and the old in Nigeria, we can do much better at least in South Eastern Nigeria.”
To check cyanide, he called for strict enforcement of the regulations guiding the discharge of cassava-cyanide wastes, agricultural fertilizers and pesticides into the waterways and atmosphere.
“Nigerian government should through its relevant agencies like Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and National Agency for Food Administration and Control (NAFDAC), among others, to rise to the challenges of ensuring that foods, drinks, water and the environment do not contain toxicants and chemical carcinogens beyond the limits set by Codex Alimentarius Commission, which is a joint international body of FAO/WHO, which Nigeria is a member.