Experts identify crop as solution to malnutrition in Nigeria

Experts and other key stakeholders in agriculture and food sector had identified African Yam Bean (AYB) as a food security crop with numerous benefits and capable of tackling malnutrition in the country.
They made this known during the showcase of event on foods from AYB at the University of Ibadan (UI), Ibadan.
The event was organised by Peas’ n Chips Entrepreneurs project, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and Agroimpact Projects and Empowerment Initiative, UI Women’s Society.
In her opening speech, Dr Sarafat Tijani, the Peas’n Chips Entrepreneurs Project Stakeholder Networking Specialist, said AYB provided excellent source of protein, especially for vegans and vegetarians.
Tijani said the crop could prevent diabetics, obesity and cancer because it’s rich in flavonoid and antioxidant that prevents cancer.
“It promotes weight loss because it’s low in fat but high in fiber making. It also promotes easy digestion and prevents constipation,” she said.
Also speaking, the Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, UI, Prof. Stella Odebode, said that the AYB had lots of potential in promoting food security in Africa and should be promoted.
She said that the crop was unique and the development could help to promote food and nutrition security in the country.
In the same vein, Dr Morufat Balogun, the Project Research Co-investigator IITA/UI, said AYB is a drought tolerant crop in which the bean and tubers are edible and increases food diversity.
Balogun, a Geneticist, added that the crop was resilience because it could stand extreme weather conditions while improving soil fertility.
She said the crop could be used to alleviate malnutrition during food scarcity and could fill food, nutrition and livelihood gaps if policies are put in place to establish sustainable value chains and export markets of the crop.
Balogun said the essence of the workshop was to brainstorm on ways the AYB value chains could be explored to maximise its potential.
Also, a Food Processor and Nutrition Specialist in UI, Mrs Abiodun Adesina, said she made different delicacy from the AYB which included moimoi, bean cakes (akara) and bean porridge (adalu).
Adesina, who confirmed the unique potential of the crop in promoting food security, urged people especially women to engage in its production and processing to better their lot.
Similarly, a Farmer who planted AYB, Mr Moses Kolawole, said it was a good source of food and income for his family..
“AYB is one of the indigenous foods eaten by our fathers, we implore the governments to support us and researchers to develop the crop and value chains,” he said.
Also, another farmer, Mr Idowu Kazeem, said the AYB could mitigate climate change if it’s intercropped with other crops, added that it improved soil fertility.
“There is need to sensitise people on the importance of the crop, we farmers also need support from the government to improve its production,” he said.
Stakeholders who tasted the products made from the AYB confirmed its unique taste and urged the government and other interested parties to promote the production as well as processing of the crop.

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