CONSUMPTION OF LOCAL FOODS CAN AID LONGEVITY AND PRODUCTIVITY – FUTA DON
A Professor of Biotechnology and Food Product Development has said that consumption of local foods such as African oil bean (Ugba), African yam bean, tiger nut, fluted pumpkin, African star apple, snake tomato have the potential to aid longevity and promote good health and vitality due to the potent antioxidant properties that they contain. Professor Victor Enujiugha stated this while delivering the 120th lecture of the Federal University of Technology Akure, FUTA titled “Biotechnology for Healthy Nutrition and Productive Lifestyle” on Tuesday ,March 10,2020.The don said, these local plant foods also referred to as biodiversity and bio resources, contain a large variety of phenolic derivatives and these compounds which are present naturally in vegetables, fruits, grains and pulses possess the ability to reduce oxidative damage that are believed to cause many diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, cataracts, diabetes, arthritis, immune deficiency diseases and aging.
Enujiugha said the key to addressing the many nutritional and health challenges in the third world is the exploitation of local biodiversity. This he said can only be possible if adequate information on this locally available bio resources are clearly delineated and properly researched with a view to maximizing their potential nutritional and health benefits. The lecturer stressed the need for effective collaborations among all stakeholders and increased advocacy and enlightenment of local farmers to the rich natural endowments of their immediate ecosystems which can be cultivated for sustenance of healthy nutritional productivity. Professor Enujiugha decried the unsavory culture of neglect of our useful biodiversity adding that it can be curtailed by concerned governments via the creation of conducive agronomic environments for farmers. To increase bio resource exploitation he said there is a need to invent ways to add value to these crop plants by diversifying the existing consumption forms through adaptation of new and emerging processing techniques.
The don said application of modern biotechnology to food production presents new opportunities and challenges for human health and development. He said traditional biotechnology which has been effectively adopted and adapted in Africa, includes spontaneous and controlled fermentation, seed culture, provision of appropriate conditions and environmental modifications for optimal enzyme action He said this has shown more relevance to rural populations, in terms of overall essence and ease of applicability and this is also important in achieving economic viability and at the same time improving food and household security among the diverse populations. Enujiugha advocated for financial empowerment for rural farmers to enable them venture into domestication of the varied wild species scattered across the African agro ecological landscapes. He said farmers need incentives to be able to venture into the cultivation of unconventional and neglected species through the provision of funds and other forms of support such as equipment and fertilizer supplies.
In his remarks, chairman of the lecture and Vice Chancellor of FUTA, Professor Joseph Fuwape lauded the lecturer for the cerebral delivery of the lecture. He described Enijiugha as an erudite and productive scholar who has contributed immensely to his area of specialization. The lecture was attended by Government functionaries, Royal fathers, staff and students of the institution.