LAUTECH Researchers Begin Campaign For Adoption Of Food Crops

A team of lecturers in the Faculties of Food Science and Engineering, as well as their counterparts in Agricultural Sciences of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, have engaged in a sensitisation campaign aimed at popularising benefits of the Orange fleshed Sweet Potato (O.F.S.P), as crop and food in Oyo and Kwara States.

The team, led by the university’s Director of Quality Assurance, who coincidentally is a Professor of Food Science, Professor Aishat Bolanle Akinwande, is embarking on creating awareness about the potentials of the specie as a means of enhancing the livelihood and nutrition of the masses in the Ogbomoso and Offa zones of both states.

The project, a multi disciplinary and multi-institutional one which harnesses the expertise of different researchers is jointly funded by the West African Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP) and LAUTECH, Ogbomoso.

Orange fleshed sweet potato

Akinwande who is the coordinator of the activities of the LAUTECH team members and design implementation of the project spoke at the beginning of the awareness programme last week at Odo-Oba, describing orange fleshed sweet potato as an excellent food security crop which is good for under-nutrition and micronutrient malnutrition.

Speaking on the advantages of the food product over most other staple food, the coordinator of both on-farm adaptation and institutional based research at both zones, Dr. Timothy Olabiyi, said the OFSP is less labour intensive and easy to cultivate with growth on marginal soil, and fairly drought resistant when established.

While emphasising that roots and vines (4% protein) have potential for human food and animal feed, Olabiyi said: “The opportunities for value addition to different products reduce post-harvest losses of tubers. It is rich in Vitamins A, B, C, E and K and equally high in fiber content with low glycemic index. It has significant impact on vitamin A deficiency that threatens children under age five.”
In her remarks, the coordinator of product development activities of the project, who is also a lecturer in Food Science and Engineering, Professor Beatrice Ade-Omowaiye, said the food product portends high bio availability of vitamin A, whose feeding to children improved their vitamin A status between three weeks and four months.

Also speaking at the popular Owode market, in Offa, Kwara State, the team’s coordinator, Rural Programme and Extension Services, Dr. Gbolagade Adeola, said OFSP can be consumed as fresh vegetable, dried and milled as raw material for other products, processed into a popular hausa beverage known as Kunun zaki, boiled and or fried for consumption, processed into porridge, deployed to production of chips, chin chin, among others.

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