FAO in Jamaica, Bahamas and Belize

Cassava bread gets thumbs up: stakeholders in Jamaica hopeful about commercial potential


Under FAO’s sub-regional project for Processing and Market Development of Cassava in select Caribbean Community Countries, a baking demonstration and sampling exercise were the latest steps in promoting cassava as a viable commercial product for Jamaica and other countries in the Caribbean.

On July 13, 2016, 10 local bakers attended and participated in the baking demonstration exercise organized by FAO in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries and the Caribbean Agri-Business Association (CABA).

The baking demonstration and sampling session hosted at the University of Technology’s (UTECH) School of Hospitality and Tourism Management had the objective to provide knowledge and training for at least 8 bakeries in Jamaica, which would build their capacity to make bread, replacing regular flour with either 30% cassava flour or 40% grated cassava in commercial bread making.

According to the project’s regional coordinator, Vermaran Extavour, the project has the wider aim of assisting the selected countries to increase utilization and marketing of cassava through exposure to new value added options and improved processing technologies to meet food and industrial uses.

Given the high food import bill of the Caribbean region, cassava is also being promoted as one of the mechanisms to assist countries within the region to reduce their food import bill. Following the cassava bread baking demonstration, over 20 stakeholders were then invited to sample the different formulations, first on its own, then with assorted traditional toppings such as butter, jam and cheese.

Largely, the stakeholders agreed that the freshly baked bread was desirable as it had a lighter texture than the traditional hard dough bread, a lovely aroma and, with further development, the slight difference in taste would make it appealing to some segments of the local market.

The bakers also shared feedback based on the baking demonstrations and noted that the formulation and methodology was detailed and easy to follow and they believed their respective organizations would be open to utilizing cassava in commercial bread production once they had properly trained staff to oversee the process.

Post sampling meetings were also held with key stakeholders to discuss the status of the industry and possible opportunities and challenges linked to the cassava development initiative.

Jamaica’s baking demonstration and sampling exercise follows the successful launch of cassava bread in neighbouring Barbados where the product is now available in several commercial outlets island-wide.

At the larger level, the FAO’s project for Processing and Market Development of Cassava in select CARICOM countries also hopes to use cassava to replace a portion of wheat flour, which is a top 10 imported crop. Cassava is also recognized for its climate change resilience.