Monday, October 01, 2018

“Feed the Future”

Imagine crops that survive with a scant amount of water. Crops that are high in vitamins and have medicinal purposes.

The African potato may look like a typical Russet potato, but it’s actually not a potato at all; instead, it’s a member of the mint family. One whiff confirms it. A single serving offers almost the entire recommended daily protein intake.
Small and round, the egusi melon lacks the typically succulent, sweet flesh of a watermelon; instead it has extremely bitter, dry flesh. So what’s the shining attribute of the egusi? Its seeds. Large, flat and white, they are packed with amino acids. Due to their rich fat and protein content, the seeds can replace milk in human diets and even be used as a laxative, a diuretic and a treatment for insect bites. Surviving in temperatures of more than 100 degrees and on a mere 2 inches of rain a year makes the egusi a future star for Southern climates.
The marama bean is packed with enough nutrients and protein that people have been known to survive by eating them alone. Called the “green gold of Africa,” these beans are exceptionally tasty, nutritious and smart — the bean plant buries its fruits in soil as a safe haven from insects.
 The African eggplant, with fruit in a rainbow of hues as well as white and black, solids and stripes. The eggplant can resemble an egg or a pumpkin, growing either smooth or with ridges. The fruits have a long shelf life and can also be preserved by drying.
African rice, which grows — and even thrives — on less than 30 inches of rain a year. It can survive extremely dry, hot temperatures, and for those reasons, it’s not prone to harvest failure. The African rice receives little attention compared to other members of the grain family, but it may deserve the most.
“It’s a very wonderful crop and can grow without water,” Bhardwaj says.

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