Biochemical and agro-morphological characterization of wild, under-exploited vigna species and their utilization
Harouna, Difo Voukang
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According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations recent report, the immense challenge of achieving the Zero Hunger target by 2030 is still persistent. Therefore, the search for alternative food and feed sources for human and animal nutrition to feed the exponentially growing human population is a daunting task. It is imperative that 70% more food is needed to cover the gap between suppy and demand of food. Exploring the new, innovative methods of crop production remains the most viable and sustainable option available to most researchers to achieve food and nutrition security. This study explored the biochemical, agro-morphological, cooking cookability and farmers‘ preference of 160 accessions of four wild unexplored Vigna species in order to reveal information leading to their future domestication and utilization. The agro-morphological study was conducted in two agro-ecological zones in Tanzania, namely: The mid-altitude agro-ecological zone (Kisongo, Arusha region) and the high altitude agro-ecological zone (Lyamungo, Kilimanjaro region). The augmented block design study was used. An explorative survey and a focus group discussion (FGD) were performed to assess the farmers‘ preferences, perception and prospective use of the wild Vigna legumes while the Mattson Bean Cooker was used to evaluate the cooking characteristics of the legumes. Standard procedures and methods approved by the Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC) were used in carrying out the biochemical characteristics tests of the wild Vigna legumes. The study revealed that the wild Vigna legumes are less known by many farmers but can be accepted as food, feed, cover crop or organic fertilizer although thre is need for improvement. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that the wild Vigna species possesses a large variation range of agromorphological, biochemical and consumption characteristics which could be exploited in the improvement and/or domestication of species. It was also found that some individual wild accessions have higher nutrient, mineral content and best cooking time as compared with domesticated ones which could be advantageous for bio-fortification or domestication. Indications relating to the candidate accessions favorable for domestication, based on the agro-morphological, socio-cultural practice, cooking and biochemical characteristics were revealed. The study concluded that the genus Vigna (wild and domesticated species) presents a considerably high diversity in terms of agro-morphological, socio-cultural practice, cooking and biochemical characteristics. However, despite their under-exploitation for human benefits, the wild Vigna legumes demonstrated important agro-morphological, socio-cultural practice, cooking and biochemical characteristics comparable with the domesticated ones that attracted some farmers‘ preferences. Therefore, the evaluat ion of other important agro morphological traits, biochemical characteristics, socio-economic implication of wild Vigna utilization, toxicity studies and prospects of a patent/prototype establishment for promising accessions are among other recommendations for further studies.
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