Batswana will soon access the National Food Research Technology Centre’s (NFRTC) database on indigenous food composition, dishes and raw materials whose compilation is in its final phases, the Director of Research and Development, Lewis Iheanacho Ezeogu, says.
According to Ezeogu, the NFRTC team has, in the process, analyzed a total of 80 indigenous foods for their nutrient contents, including fat, protein, carbohydrate, vitamin and mineral. Based on the just released 2011 NFRTC Annual Report, Ezeogu explained that the nutritional information provided by the project shall assist in designing nutritional guidelines for special groups in Botswana, including dietary prescriptions for people living with specified life debilitating ailments.
During the current financial year, a survey of Botswana’s indigenous foods and their processing technologies, interrogated and identified the potential safety and health, information relating to the distribution, densities, yields, and accessibility.
The Director said NFRTC’s appointment in 2011 as the Southern African Regional Focal Point for the World Association of Industrial and Technological Research Organization contributes to the institutional vision of becoming an internationally recognized centre of food science and technological research excellence.
“As part of its efforts to develop industrial processes for value-added indigenous meat products, the meat programme team recently completed the development of a mechanized industrial process for canned Serobe manufacturing. Since the canned product is more hygienically produced, safer and more shelf-stable, NFRTC’s client has taken over the process,” he said.
Ezeogu said the food team has reached an advanced industrial process for Seswaa manufacturing ensuring commercialization of a safe, shelf durable, convenient and consistent quality product for both the local and export markets.
When it comes on stream Seswaa manufacturing will help value-addition and opening up new opportunities in meat processing and create employment. The improvement of the safety of Seswaa by vastly reducing the possibilities of microbiological contamination cannot be overemphasized.
Furthermore, the process can effectively convert Seswaa into a convenience, shelf top available food product, boost export potential and contribute to the government’s economic diversification drive.
“However, the progress made by the meat programme team would not have been possible were it not for the acquisition of a mechanized meat shredder and wireless temperature logging system for optimal retort plant operations in 2010,” he said.
NFTRC’s interesting development involves evaluation of the baking properties of sorghum to make muffins, madombi, fat cakes and diphaphata has progressed well. Work on the production of composite and 100 percent sorghum bread aims to increase the industrial utilization of the staple-food cereal and save foreign currency by reducing the wheat import bill.
The NFRTC Food Safety recently concentrated on the problem of fungal infestation and the attendant contamination of food products by mycotoxins, some of which are potent causes of disease, including both acute and chronic ailments such as cancers, foetal malformation or death at the worst.
Hopefully, the mycotoxins report should be soon available, he said.