Seeking creative ways to boost soybean consumption in Mozambique

posted on August 30, 2017 9:06am

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Northern and central Mozambique have experienced a marked increase in soybean production, but much of that production has been directed toward export markets, with the remainder going to the feed and oil industries. Despite the crop’s high nutritional value, the Mozambican food industry is just starting to apply soybeans toward human consumption.

Looking for a way to boost soybean consumption, Claudia Domingos Mapure wants to combine the crop with malambe, a fruit also known as baobab, into a fermented, ready-to-eat food product. Mapure, a scholar with the Borlaug Higher Education for Agricultural Research and Development (BHEARD) program, is studying food technology at Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo, Mozambique.

The goal of BHEARD, supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development, is to develop agricultural scientists and increase agricultural research capacity in partner countries. The program is named after Dr. Norman Borlaug, an American biologist, humanitarian and Nobel laureate who has been called “the father of the Green Revolution.”

A fermented product made of soybean and malambe could popularize the consumption of both crops, as well as serve as a source of nutrients for people who cannot consume fermented products based on cow’s milk. It would be consumable by individuals of all social backgrounds and ages, including children six months or older. Fermentation would improve the sensory characteristics – like palate and odor – of both crops, and make the end result more appetizing and nutritious.

Mapure said there is a tremendous need to improve and supplement Mozambican diets. Part of her motivation for developing a fermented product is to provide the country’s consumers with a source of protein and micronutrients like vitamin C and calcium and to make it available and affordable.

Mapure plans to earn her master’s degree and return home to Chimoio, Mozambique, in September, where she will work for the Mozambican government as a technician in the agriculture department’s food and nutrition security division. She hopes to continue to solve problems related to the underutilization of soybeans, and to fight protein-related undernutrition in rural communities.

– Matt Milkovich