AFRICANGLOBE – From teff, moringa, amaranth and hibiscus, here’s some health secrets of Africa’s most nutritious plants.
The number of hungry people in the world has dropped to 795 million from 1 billion in 1990-92, to the latest State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015 (SOFI).
Released in Rome on May 27, SOFI 2015 reported that in the developing regions, the prevalence of undernourishment declined to 12.9% of the population, down from 23.3% a quarter century ago.
The report published by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) praised the efforts of Africa, in particular western Africa, in achieving their millennium development goals (MDG) hunger target.
However, despite the progress, Africa is the region with the highest prevalence of undernourishment in the world, at 23.2%.
The situation could get better – or worse – depending on how the continent’s and the world’s love affairs with some of its increasingly popular foods plays out.
Early this month, the Ethiopian government announced plans to allow the partial lifting of a ban on exports of teff grain, touted as the newest “superfood” in the health food circuits particularly in the Europe and North America.
But the challenge will be how to get high prices internationally while keeping prices low locally, to avoid the fate that befell other “super foods” like quinoa and spelt that became too expensive for ordinary farmers in the end.
Under the plan, Ethiopian teff will be produced commercially for export under tight government control on 48 farms throughout the country, according to a report in GeeskaAfrika.
We look at 10 super foods in Africa that pack a serious nutritional punch, that you should be eating – and drinking – right now:
Grown predominantly in Ethiopia and Eritrea, teff is a fine grain that packs a serious nutritional punch. It leads all the grains – by a large margin – in its calcium content, with a cup of cooked teff containing 123mg of calcium, about the same as half a cup of spinach. It’s also high in protein, iron, and – unusual for a grain – in vitamin C.
Used to make the traditional flatbread injera which is a regional stable, export of teff grain or flour have been banned by the Ethiopian government since 2006.
No doubt the Ethiopian government has looked nervously at the example of another superfood, quinoa, which has become so popular on the global stage that many people in its native countries – Peru and Bolivia – can no longer afford to buy it. And hunger is a political issue in Ethiopia that the authorities have an extremely low tolerance for.