By Mary Obaebor
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 and snake tomato, have the potential to aid longevity and promote good health and vitality due to the potent antioxidant properties that they contain.
Prof. 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.
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.
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 could be cultivated for sustenance of healthy nutritional productivity.
Enujiugha decried the unsavory culture of neglect of our useful biodiversity, adding that it could be curtailed by concerned governments via the creation of conducive agronomic environments for farmers.
“To increase bio resource exploitation, 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”, he said. The don stressed that the application of modern biotechnology to food production presents new opportunities and challenges for human health and development.
He said traditional biotechnology which had been effectively adopted and adapted in Africa, included spontaneous and controlled fermentation, seed culture, provision of appropriate conditions and environmental modifications for optimal enzyme action
In his remarks, chairman of the lecture and Vice Chancellor of FUTA, Prof. Joseph Fuwape, lauded the lecturer for the cerebral delivery of the lecture. He described Enijiugha as an erudite and productive scholar who had contributed immensely to his area of specialisation.