Sweet potato can replace wheat, says scientist


A Rwandan agricultural scientist, Mr Kirimi Sindi, has advised African countries to use sweet potato flour for confectioneries as an alternative to wheat.

Sindi, in a paper presented at the ongoing 16th Triennial Symposium of International Society for Tropical and Root Crops, in Abeokuta, Ogun state, western Nigeria, noted that sweet potato is rich in Vitamin A.

His paper was entitled “What is the consumers’ perception of bakery products made with Vitamin A rich sweet potato and wheat?’’

The scientist said that the consumption of sweet potato could eliminate Vitamin A deficiency common in many parts of the continent.

“Sweet potato is better than wheat because it is cheaper while imported wheat is costly,’’ Sindi said.

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He explained that Africa has many local alternatives to wheat flour that could reduce the cost of producing confectioneries.

According to him, flour made from potato and cassava can be used to bake bread, doughnut, biscuits and cakes, reducing production cost by 15 per cent.

Sindi spoke about a study he conducted with four other researchers in Rwanda, which showed that confectioneries, made by a combination of sweet potato flour and wheat, tasted better.

He said that respondents in the research, preferred such confectioneries to those made from only wheat.

“Manufacturers who import agricultural commodities like wheat are facing increasing costs due to rising commodity prices. Sweet potato can replace up to 40 per cent of the wheat in bakery products. This can lower production costs, save a country’s foreign exchange, and increase the rural farmer’s income,’’ he noted.

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