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Nigerian Entrepreneur Creates Local Alternative Pasta

FILE - A vendor measures wheat flour in a cup for retail at a market in Ibafo, Ogun State, southwest Nigeria. Taken 3.14.2022

Renee Chuks is a trained chef who started experimenting with making pasta from cassava flour during COVID lockdown in Nigeria.

Renee Chuks uses locally grown crops like cassava and plantain. Her pasta is hand-made infused with herbs. She strated her company since COVID-19 lockdown started in 2020 and she now sells her pasta via her company, Aldente Africa.

She says that Aldente Africa is among the first companies to make gluten-free pasta in Nigeria. The country is one of the world's biggest producers of cassava, a root vegetable rich in minerals and Vitamin C.

Chuks believes Africa should make more use of its locally grown crops to help improve food security on the continent.

"We looked inward to like, what kind of products we have that we eat every day. Cassava is one of our major, major products ... so we figured let's start with that, if we are able to get good success with cassava then everything else will follow."

The entrepreneur gives her pasta a green or pinkish tint and infuses it with local herbs and vegetables when she uses plantain and fonio, a small grain crop grows in West Africa.

Her products track a global trend toward plant-based food. She elegant packages and retails at US$2-US$5 per pack of pasta, they cater to a relatively affluent consumer for now.

Chuks sees plenty of room for growing her business in the wheat-based pasta as wheat is a staple food in Nigeria. She is expanding her business in the market by selling alternative products online and in health shops.

Her company also produces alcoholic wines made from hibiscus plant and herbs for cooking.