Experts see a way to help fight malnutrition and support rural development. Transcript of radio broadcast:
This is the VOA Special English
have a question from a health worker -- and longtime listener -- in Nigeria.
James Uwaifoh says there are many food crops that were grown in the past but
not any longer. He wants to know if it would be possible for communities to
grow these foods again. He says it could provide a way to reduce food
shortages, hunger and nutrition disorders.
committee of scientists appointed by the United States National Research
Council had the same thought. Earlier this year, they called attention to
twenty-four African fruits that today are largely unused. The experts said
these fruits are a resource that could help fight malnutrition and support
rural development in Africa.
study was the last in a series of reports on "lost crops of Africa."
Earlier reports dealt with grains and vegetables.
Africa, the main tropical fruits now are bananas, pineapples and papayas. Colonial
rulers imported these crops already improved from the Americas and Asia
centuries ago. Over time, these displaced traditional fruits that had fed
Africans for thousands of years.
Today Africa's traditional fruits are
mostly raised in villages and home gardens. There are few large operations for
cultivating them. The scientists suggest that horticultural science could
improve the crops.
In terms of nutritional value, the
report says fruits like carissa, marula and kei apple contain more vitamin C
than the average orange. The fruit of the tamarind tree is high in B vitamins
and calcium. And the fruit can stay good for months without cold storage.
from the baobab tree contains a sticky material that can be dried
into a powder high in protein, vitamins and minerals. The powder can be mixed
into a drink with warm water or milk. Or it can be beaten and dried into thin
pancakes that can be stored for months or even years.
Most African fruits grow wild. Scientists
know very little about them. The fruits have names like aizen, gumvine, sweet
detar and ebony. Ebony trees are valued for their black hardwood. But they also
produce a sweet fruit that can be eaten fresh or dried.
Researcher Mark Dafforn directed the
study. He says the traditional fruits of Africa have proven their ability to
survive droughts and floods. He believes farming them can succeed.
that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson.
Transcripts and MP3 archives of our reports are at voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Steve Ember.