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The rising cost of importing wheat, sugar and other raw materials used in bread production is threatening the baking industry in Nigeria.
The Rivers State Chairman of the Master Bakers and Cafeteria Association of Nigeria (MBCAN), Dr Chidi Emmanuel Orlu, who revealed this in an exclusive interview with The Tide in Port Harcourt, said current government policies regarding the industry are not favorable to bakers.
Orlu also blamed unhealthy competition and rivalry between bakers as some of the problems.
He said that since the association has no regulatory power, the bakery business has become everyone’s business.
“In 2005, you sold more than 50% of your production. You don’t have the challenge you have today.
“Today we spend a lot of money on packaging. The number of bakeries has increased, giving rise to unhealthy rivalry and competition, as people come with the impression of so much profit,” he said.
He also accused the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and other agencies of not being aware of their responsibilities.
“The Association does not regulate. Regulation is the responsibility of the government through NAFDAC,” he said.
Orlu noted that the agency (NAFDAC) and other regulators are now more interested in the revenue they generate from bakeries.
“NAFDAC today is interested in the income it generates from bakeries and the like. Primary control has moved into the background,” he said.
He also lamented the duplication of functions between the agency and others such as the Department of Health, Department of Public Health, Local Government Health Department, State and Federal Fire Departments. respectively, adding that all send one demand notice or the other. .
“We have the Ministry of Health, the public health department, we have a lot of government public health departments, all controlling the bakery. They send formal notices and each of them wants money,” he said.
According to the president of the bakers, the obvious lack of responsibility has led to the closure of many bakeries, thus throwing many people into the labor market.
He said those who had no place in the industry were also taking the opportunity to get into it, using certain banned substances to produce bread for public consumption.
Orlu therefore called on the government to help bakers with loans on favorable terms to enable them to remain in business.
Regarding the alleged planned withdrawal from service by master bakers in the state, he said the plan was to ensure that citizens continue to have access to bread.
“We have decided to withdraw our services to alert citizens that if something is not done, we will be heading towards a point where the bread will no longer be for the common man,” he said.
The proposed action, he explained, was to show that the industry’s problem is not caused by bakers, but purely by government policies and the economic environment.
“That’s just the essence of withdrawing services,” he said, hinting at plans to raise product prices even further.

From: Jean Bibor