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Enriched foods give Nigerian kids green power

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By Abiodun Okunloye

Southwest Nigeria has plenty of vegetables that can benefit many Nigerians.

To expand access to the health advantages of green vegetables, Kehinde Adekunbi Taiwo, a food process engineer, has dedicated decades to striving to improve Local Food products for the betterment of her country, Nigeria. According to Taiwo, a Professor of Food Engineering at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) in Ile-Ife, Nigeria, Department of Food Science and Technology (FST), Southwest Nigeria has an ample supply of green vegetables, which are not domesticated and are consequently poorly explored. However, she and her group have discovered ways to offer the health advantages of these vegetables to a large number of people in Nigeria.

According to her research team, they have investigated the use of local green leaf vegetables such as amaranthus viridis (amaranth), telfairia occidentalis (fluted pumpkin), and solanum macrocarpon (african eggplant) in enhancing native food products like (cake, bread, moinmoin, biscuit, chinchin, etc.) which were satisfactory to people. She added that leafy greens are fairly affordable and rich in essential nutrients, comprising phytochemicals, protein, and micronutrients. She added that the largest prospect is that children enjoy vegetable-enriched products, allowing them to meet their nutritional needs without stress and at a low cost. Children don’t like vegetables, but due to the product offerings she helped create, Food Security is affordable.

Every child needs education and good parenting.

Taiwo was raised and attended primary school in the northern Nigerian city of Kano. She was born as one of a pair of twins, a boy and a girl, during an era when many parents saw little need in sending their daughters to school. She continued by stating that her mother insisted she and her sisters get an Education despite opposition from her husband and that her mother also pushed her to keep up with current events (newspaper) so that she might make meaningful contributions to the family’s conversations.

Despite the low expectations of female children at the time, she says, she performed exceptionally well on the National Common Entrance examination and was admitted to the highly competitive Federal Government Girls’ College based on merit. After completing her primary education in a boarding school in Benin City, Nigeria, Taiwo attended the University of Ife in Osun State, Nigeria, for her undergraduate degree in biochemistry and later returned there for his master’s in Food Science Technology.

Changes have been made to Africa’s post-harvest food crops processing.

Professor J. Akinmususru, Taiwo’s brother-in-law and a lecturer persuaded her to switch to Food Science and Technology (in the Faculty of Technology) because, he observed that there were so few women in the field at the time. And he was right. As a Food Process Engineer, Taiwo professes to have made significant contributions to the post-harvest processing of African food crops. She is said to have provided essential engineering data for use in things like designing machinery and figuring out how to best manage and control any given process.

More so, Dorcas Lukwesa is an entrepreneur who hails from Africa and works in the field of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Her focus is on leafy greens. Lukwesa spent her childhood in Zambia on the farm that belonged to her grandparents. These days, she is developing a social enterprise in the country that will provide movable smart gardens that are made of bamboo to farmers who have limited space, impeded soil, as well as less water.

Leafy vegetables will be integrated into food items.

Not only do green leafy vegetables have a high nutritious content, but they also have a potential therapeutic use. Therefore, they devised the optimum drying regimens for the leaves, the ideal processing procedures for the various food items, and the best techniques for extracting the antioxidants in the best possible way. They also determined the best form to add to the food items, carried out acceptability tests, and organized some awareness campaign events with key parties; government regulatory agencies, food vendors, bakers, farmers, community associations in villages and bread makers’ associations, in order to encourage the adoption and utilization of the research findings.


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