No fewer than 1,500 bakers have been equipped with required confectionary skills by Crown Flour Mill (CFM), in other to boost bread production and address skilled gap within the sector.
CFM noted that the training programme was embarked upon to provide support resources that could bolster the productivity level and employment-generating capacity of the baking industry.
The Managing Director CFM, Ashish Pande, said, “The Baking industry is key for food production in Nigeria, it produces bread, a major staple food in the country, not to mention pastries and confectionery.”
Speaking through a statement released on World Baking Day, he noted that the company, a subsidiary of Olam, an agribusiness conglomerate, would continue to strive to ensure the sector assist the country boost food security.
According to him, asides from producing Nigeria’s leading staple food, the bread segment creates jobs for thousands of people employed in its value chain, which ranges from bakers down to street hawkers.
“Having realised the importance of the segment to the Nigerian economy, in consultation with bakers, we were able to identify skill and knowledge gaps that needed to be closed if the segment was to continue playing its crucial role in supporting the Nigerian economy and food security. Thereafter, we launched a baking school, which has continued to enhance the skill and know-how of operators of non-mechanized or artisanal bakeries since 2018,” Pande added.
Speaking about CFM’s baking school and why the firm prioritized bakers’ capacity development, Head, Crown Flour Mill Baking School, Olayinka Yusuf, explained that the baking school offers bakers the opportunity to enhance their technical and business management skills.
Yusuf added: “We believe that with the right knowledge, artisanal bakers can improve their output with their existing equipment, resulting in lower production costs and increased margins.”
He hinted that that CFM has committed about N120 million to training bakers pan-Nigeria from 2020 to date. So far 1,500 bakers have benefitted from the firm’s capacity building initiative. The CFM baking programme focuses on equipping both existing and the next generation of bakers with the requisite knowledge and skills to take the industry to the next level.
CFM baking schools are currently located in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Warri, Ilorin, Calabar and Kano where bakers are taken through a 3-day intensive accelerated bakers’ training course for free.
The lockdown afforded many interested bakers the opportunity to hone their skills, prompting them to keep on improving their craft. “Baking can be a very lucrative vocation and the requisite requirement is the passion and will to pursue one’s dream says Ashish Pande.”
The success and positive feedback from bakers who attended the baking school are heartening. One of the participants, Keyede Kikelomo of Excel bakery said: “I have learnt a lot from this training. One thing I didn’t know before the training was the high-water absorption rate of Mama Gold which translates into an extra dough which results in extra profit per bag of flour.”
Another participant, Ogugba Ernest of Dan Real Bakery, while sharing his experience after the training, said: “I have learnt the impact, good bakery practices such as ingredients measurement, sanitation and staff management have on the profitability of my bakery.”
World Baking Day is celebrated globally. The commemorative event provides an opportunity for bakers and millers to highlight the benefits of baked foods and drive further innovation in the baked foods industry as households increasingly pivot to wheat derivative foods due to their higher nutrition values, price advantage and availability.