Food And Agriculture: Root Crops Essay

1718 words - 7 pages

Tropical and subtropical countries have climatic conditions which are unfavourable for the production of wheat. These countries are therefore heavily dependent on wheat imports to provide staple food products for their populations (FAO; Byerlee, 1987 1-2). In 1960 the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) began a Composite Flour Programme aimed at empowering developing nations with the technology to improve their country’s food security. Composite flour is a mixture of flours from cereals and root tubers. Flour from ground legumes such as soya bean may also be added to increase the protein content of the composite flour. Wheat is often the cereal incorporated in the mixture but cereals such as maize, rice, buckwheat and millet can also be utilized (Popper, 2006).

Root crops are the edible energy–rich underground plant structures developed from modified roots. While tuber crops are those crops in which the edible carbohydrate – rich storage organs develop wholly or partly from underground stems (Okigbo 1989). Root crops and tuber crops are important in Sub Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Some of the major root tubers crops grown are cassava, yams, sweet potatoes and taro (dasheen). Flour made from the root crops can be partially substituted for wheat flour in the production of bread, cakes and pastries (Arenillo et al, 2012; Mongi et al, 2011; Okorie and Onyeneke, 2012;Rangel et al, 2011; Njintang et al 2008).

Colocasia esculenta (L.) originated in the tropical region that spans from India to Indonesia and is now widely grown in Africa, Asia, the Pacific Region and the Caribbean (Matthews 2004, 55-71). The root crop is commonly known as dashen in the Caribbean. It was originally brought to the West Indies from Africa as a source of food for the enslaved Africans (The Slave Rebellion Site). In the Pacific Colocasia esculenta is known as Taro whilst in Africa the common name is Cocoyam. Dasheen is a rich source of energy, carbohydrates and is low in fiber. The corm (edible tuber) of the dasheen has a water content of approximately 70% and starch in the amount of 70-80g/100g dry dasheen. Several studies have shown that dasheen contains the micronutrients Fe, Zn, Mg, Ca, Na, P and Mn (Adane et al 2013; Amon et al 2011; Bradbury and Holloway 1988).

The use of dasheen composite wheat flour in baked goods has been explored by Mongi et al (2011); Ammar et al (2009) and Eddy et al (2012). The acrid qualities of dasheen which has been attributed to raphides of calcium oxalate (H.W. Wiley 1904) can be easily removed by a protocol of peeling, washing, then blanching or boiling the corms (Payne et al. 1941; Alcantar; et Amon et al 2011. The dasheen is then shredded, dehydrated, milled and sieved. The product of this process is a fine white powder which can be used in composite flour mixtures. A bread recipe of ten percent dasheen (taro) flour with 90 percent wheat flour received the high overall...

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