Breads from African climate-resilient crops for improving diets and food security

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In Africa, rural communities traditionally prepare meals from locally grown crops like cassava, sorghum and pulses, which are considered Climate Resilient Crops (CRC). However, with fast population growth, urbanization, and increasing disposable incomes, consumption of foods based on refined cereals, like breads made from mostly imported wheat, is increasing rapidly and replacing traditional meals. Over time, Africahas shifted from being a net food exporter to being a net food importer. This growing dependency of Africa to imported foods is a huge economic problem and makes the African food system highly vulnerable for disruptions like COVID-19 and the wheat and fuel crises due to the Ukraine war. Promoting the use of CRCs into nutritious bread products can reduce Africa’s dependency on imported wheat by developing value-adding processes that create new economic activities along the African food supply chain and increase the demand for CRCs. A systematic analysis of the challenges and opportunities for the CRCs at food system level and the identified consumer and market needs for CRC-based bread products, indicated that a substantial increase in the cultivation and consumption of CRCs would lead to considerable nutritional, economical and sustainability improvements in the sub-Sahara African food system and increase its resilience.CRCs have in common that they lack technologic functionalities and properties to effectively compete with wheat flour, although their nutritional value is comparable to or better than wheat flour. However, various processing technologies to improve CRCs can be implemented which are simple and cost-effective. In particular dry heating, roasting and extrusion are promising. Most of all, blending of CRCs proved to offer broader opportunities compared to single crops for wheat replacement. For instance, a highly versatile mixture of sorghum, cowpea and cassava was developed and successfully demonstrated in the local situationat street vendors in Uganda to provide highly attractive and satiating chapatis for low-income consumers. Also CRCs-based tin breads in African bakeries gave promising first consumer responses. These CRCs-based breads were also adapted for the gluten-free market in EU, produced in a Dutch industrial bakery and tested with consumers to provide export opportunities for African ingredients. In the short term, mixtures of CRCs can provide an alternative to wheat and hence provide affordable, nutritious food to low-income consumers. Current implementation and commercialization of these results in Uganda focuses on setting up supply chains and development of consumer products. Short term implementation in other countries is highly feasible by formal as well as informal businesses.Also in the long term, it is important to reduce Africa’s dependency on imported food by improving CRCs availability as functional ingredients and by increasing their use in value-added food production. This can clearly provide nutritional, economical and sustainability improvements and contribute to a more resilient food system.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationWageningen
PublisherWageningen Food & Biobased Research
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Publication series

NameReport / Wageningen Food & Biobased Research


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