The Ministry of Health and Wellness, and the Ministry of Agriculture have collaborated on a Roots and Tubers Project that will not only increase the cultivation of cassava throughout the region, but will also encourage the production of cassava-blended bread as a healthier alternative to traditional white bread.
The project is funded by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).
National Coordinator for the project, Marnus Cherry, said among the benefits of this project is a projected increase in sweet cassava production islandwide.
“It’s a crop that is drought resistant, so you can call it a climate smart crop,” he said. Cassava has been one of the most researched root crops by scientists. It also has a better finished product as compared to sweet potato and other root and tuber crops.”
Another component of the project is the value added aspect with the production of cassava mash which is used to make cassava-blended bread. The bread is currently being produced by at least four bakeries on island.
Manager for Manees Bakery, Sylvia Cadasse, said the cassava mash produced a better quality bread product.
“The FAO did an experiment in 2014 with us, they brought cassava flour and they brought cassava mash. What we found was the end product with mash as opposed to flour gives a much better and softer product, much better than flour.”
Chief Nutritionist in the Ministry of Health, Lisa Hunt-Mitchell, supports the use of cassava-blended bread as a healthier alterative to plain white bread.
“Research has shown that the 40 percent cassava mash – 60 percent flour mix gives a better product. Whole wheat flour has not been tested yet, but we would love for there to be cassava-blended bread with whole wheat flour as well, so that there is greater variety.”
Mitchel added that although cassava is high in carbohydrates, its glycemic index is very low.
“The glycemic index is a measure of how much a carbohydrate food can increase your blood sugar levels. When a food is low glycemic, it means that sugars from the food is released into the blood quite steadily, so that the body is able to regulate blood sugar better.”
Cassava blended bread is currently available at selected bakeries and supermarkets on island. Coordinators of the Roots and Tubers project are hopeful that both the cultivating of sweet cassava and the production of cassava-blended bread with increase.
Cassava is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its starchy, tuberous root which is a major source of carbohydrates.