Cereals and legumes can sustain Africa’s food needs

OPTIMISTIC: Prof Victoria Jideani delivered her inaugural professorial lecture on Africa's capability to provide enough food for its population

Despite being under-utilized and under-researched, with adequate support dry land cereals and grain legumes can substitute major crops such as wheat and maize.

The solution to Africa’s problem of providing a good financial reward to farmers for their produce is in the surplus production of cereals and legumes, which are processed and marketed aggressively both inside and outside the continent,” said Prof Victoria Jideani.

Jideani, a full professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology, was delivering an Inaugural Professorial Lecture on the Bellville Campus.

“Dry land cereals and grain legumes are climate-smart foods and are good for consumers, farmers and the planet as they diversify farming systems and help smallholding farmers adapt to climate change,” she added.

“They are indigenous plants with traditional uses and cultural links with local people; important for the livelihoods and nutrition of the local people, especially in tropical and sub-tropical countries.”

She discussed a range of climate-smart foods grown in South Africa, including cereals and legumes, which can solve Africa’s food and nutrition insecurities.

She added that the work of her research group aims to add value to legumes and grains.

Her research into BGN has yielded two patents: 1) a process for the production of BGN milk (BGNM) and BGN probiotic yoghurt and (2) BamFibre, a natural, gluten-, lactose- and cholesterol-free fibre, which also assists with detoxification.

Prof Marshall Sheldon, Acting DVC: Research, Technology, Innovation and Partnerships, said this was a proud moment for Jideani and the Faculty of Applied Sciences.

Sheldon added that events of this nature are held to celebrate the welcoming of new full professors to the community of distinguished scholars.

She explained that becoming a senior member of the academic community should not be taken lightly as it comes with responsibilities.

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