Health And Nutrition

Even as we strive to provide information for you to to succeed in your agribusinesses, It is important that as individual and in our family we are healthy and eat food that are nutritious. It also means that for food producers they use the best agricultural methods in ensuring that what is produced is healthy. This Category will touch these and many more. Remember Health is Wealth.

Exploiting Agribusiness Opportunities in Africa: Food Security, Employment, and Economic growth

Photo credit: esoko.com

In various continents of the world, Agribusiness has been known to be a driver of economic growth. In Africa, it has a positive impact as it accounts for 30% of national income as well as a bulk of export revenues and employment. Kenya for example, is a key producer of tea, accounting for 59.6% of total production in Africa. The country is a leading tea exporter and one of the largest black tea producers in the world. With an estimate of 33 million small holder farms in Africa, a vibrant agriculture driven economy can cause increase in yields, increase in income generation, reduce in post- harvest losses and thereby put an end to food wastage. Agribusiness is capable of initiating the agricultural growth that will positively improve the livelihood of Africa’s increasing population. It can fasten Africa’s progress towards development.

In Nigeria for example, over 78.4 million people are willing, able and actively looking for job, development in agribusiness can have a direct impact on this people because an efficient and effective agribusiness will lead to increased employment in agro industrial activities.

Agribusiness does not only cover farmers it covers input suppliers, agro processors, traders, exporters and retailers. It is a term which indicates farming and all other industries, and services, that constitute the supply chain. The business of agriculture is not to be neglected in development priorities, the focus should not only be on urban industrialization, government need to get their role right on building necessary industrial capability and capacity, strengthening managerial capacity and promoting institutional services.

To successfully achieve desired result in agribusiness, understanding and comprehension of the nature of the business and its untapped opportunities is important. Food importation in African countries has to reduce and promotion of local agricultural products has to be carried out adequately. Although there are challenges as regards climate, policies, governance, laws, infrastructure and basic services, the goals to end poverty, hunger, have improved nutrition and sustainable agriculture should be a focus that will ensure motivation. To reduce the incidence of extreme poverty and unemployment, increase in importation, massive migration of rural peasants into the cities, agribusiness needs to be promoted and financially supported efficiently and effectively.

Africa’s projected population by 2050 is 2 billion; the continent has an estimate of more than one- fourth of the total un-fed people in the world. To guide against starvation, rapid rise in food prices, severe malnutrition, food riots, extreme poverty, higher rate of social vices and diseases; there is indeed a crucial need, to exploit the opportunities in agribusiness and make the business of agriculture more productive and profitable like never before so as to achieve improved social outcomes and solve the problem of poverty and food insecurity.

For a better result, Africa needs to take important decisions concerning agribusiness opportunities and act in a better way.

Written by Idowu T.Owoeye

 

Invest In Snail Farming and Get Huge Returns

Photo credit: Google images

Photo credit: shalisha.com.

Snail is called different names in Africa, like — eju, nwa, ìgbín, katantanwa, wɔba, konokono, slak, mulaca. The snail is a small to medium sized ‘mollusc’ that is generally split into three groups which are land snails, sea snails and freshwater snails. Achatina species is a species of land snails that include Arhatina achatina (Tiger Snails), Archatina marginata (Giant African Land Snails) and Achatina fulica (Garden Snail) -which is the smallest of all.

The snails are hermaphrodites, (i.e. they have male and female parts) the individuals mate with each other before laying eggs. They are also coldblooded and can live for several years while growing to 25cm in some species. They have about 90 calories per 100 grams of weight and provide a low calorie source of protein which helps in building and repairing our muscle. They are also good sources of Iron, Vitamin B12, Magnesium, Selenium, and Omega3 -which is really good for the heart. Snails are environmentally friendly, they are most active during the night and they require low capital investment compared to poultry, pigs, goats, sheep, cattle.

Thinking of starting up?

Snail farming business has a very high rate of return and the best time to start up a snail farm is in the rainy season especially from July to October because that is the time snails normally start to breed. You should also note that prices of snails multiply during scarcity between March and December, in the dry season.  

Which is the most lucrative amongst the Achatina species?

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Photo credit: Flickr

The Tiger Snails and Giant African Land Snails are the most lucrative amongst the Achatina species because they grow so big and lay more eggs. When thinking of getting a snail to start up with – that is the- initial breeding stock, you can decide to go for sexually mature snails, weighing at least 100-125 grams as recommended by Freeman (2013).

Note that each of this 2 species is capable of laying 100- 500 eggs in a year. This means that if you start a snail farm with 5 snails this year, you will probably get about 75,000 snails in one year! This is actually going by the number of eggs laid by the 5 snails, the percentage of eggs that are likely to hatch out, and the percentage that will survive after hatching.

Where can I get the snails?

You can get many snails from the forest, uncultivated lands and in the market.  They can also be picked up in the day time after a rainfall. Also, they can be found under wet boards and surfaces, piles of leaves and sticks, wet stones, walls, the trunk of trees.

The best time to get them from places other than the market is in the night. Don’t forget they are always active in the night. So, you can clear a little portion of land in the evening during the rainy season and place some fruits after which you leave the place. After about 3 – 4 hours you can go back to pick available snails. This process can be repeated till you get the number you want to start up with. When buying snail eggs from the market ensure it has not been exposed to sunlight, as exposure to sun has a negative effect on the fertility of the eggs.

How do I keep them safe?

When selecting an appropriate site for housing the snails, consider –climate, wind speed and direction, soil characteristics and protection of the snails from diseases and predators.

Photo credit: Flickr

Snails need damp, not wet, environments and they derive most of their water requirements from the soil. They love to dig the soil to lay their eggs.

A soil that supports good growth of cocoyam, tomatoes and leafy vegetables, is suitable for snail farming. Ensure to loosen the soil by tilling.

Snails are good at escaping from where they are kept, so, for a rewarding business venture, you should endeavor, to construct escape proof housing. You can use a pen house that will be spacious and accessible with a soil deep of 10inch, and trees around it. Snails can also be reared in boxes made of suitable substances like wire gauze (net), wood, straw etc.

In other to avoid flies and ants, the removal of leftover food and cleaning should be done appropriately, also endeavor to control predators and secure the pen with nets, wire and nylon mesh. Note that changing of the soil once every 3 months and allowing them to grow to reach their proper size and weight is also essential.

What should I feed them with?

They are vegetarians and can be fed with wide varieties of foods.  You can feed them with – leaves of lettuce, cabbage, cassava, okra and pawpaw – also fruits like cucumber, mango, banana, eggplant, pear, tomato and paw- paw. Banana, paw paw and pineapple peels can also be given to them. Snails can also be feed with leftover food like rice, fufu and pap but salt intake can make them sick or even kill them. So any leftover food you give them, should not contain salt!

Who will buy the snails?

The demand for supply of snail is very important; no one wants to run at a loss. People that will constantly need and demand for  your snails include; restaurants, pepper soup joints ,canteens, stores, supermarkets, event planners and caterers, shopping malls, institutions, hotels, friends and your darling family members. You can have an agreement with this people on when, amount and number of snails that should be supplied.

Snail business will definitely not give you quick money but in the long run you will be happy about your investment that will give huge returns. Now is indeed the time to start!

Article written by Idowu T. Owoeye

Ten Health Benefits of Pumpkin Leaves(Ugu)

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Back where I come from, we call these green “ugwu” or “ugu”, and most Nigerians have no idea what the English name is (like most local foods) it is known  as pumpkin leaves. My grandmother used to say this was a great vegetable to blend and mix with juices and stuff, but way back then, as a child, I could never understand why someone would want to blend a vegetable. And it didn’t have the best texture in the world. Now, look at me, blending all sorts of greens!

This vegetable is used a lot in Nigeria to cook soups (what you may refer to as a sauce), to boil and eat plain, or to blend into a shake. People say it is healthy, but I don’t think people truly know what those health benefits are.

Pumpkin leaves contain a healthy amount of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, and Iron, while still staying very low on the calorie front.

We all know about the vision benefits vitamin A provides, as well as the skin benefits. Vitamin C helps to heal wounds and form scar tissue, and maintain healthy bones, skin, and teeth. However since the body cannot produce this vitamin on its own or even store it, you should be consistently getting enough vitamin C in your diet.

As for calcium, your mother probably already told you growing up that you need a healthy dose of calcium for your bones and teeth as a child. However, if you are a female, it is important to consume enough calcium to help prevent osteoporosis and keep your bones strong. There have also been studies showing that calcium may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular failure.

Iron helps our muscles store and use oxygen, and helps carry oxygen from our lungs to other parts of our bodies as part of hemoglobin. If you’ve ever heard the term “anemia”, this can be caused by iron deficiency. Women and children in particular need a healthy dose of iron consistently, and these leaves help provide that nutrient naturally.

Some of the health benefits of pumpkin leave include:

1. Prevention of convulsion: The young leaves sliced and mixed with coconut water and salt are stored in a bottle and used for the treatment of convulsion in ethno medicine.
2 lowers cholesterol:leaves has hypolipdemic effect and may be a useful therapy in hypercholestolemia.
3 Boost fertility: A particular study showed that pumpkin has the potential to regenerate testicular damage and also increase spermatogenesis.
4. It has a liver protecting effects.
5.  It has antibacterial effects
6 .The leaves are rich in iron and play a key role in the cure of anaemia, (my mother used to mix the leaf extract with milk)
7. They are also noted for lactating properties and are in high demand for nursing mothers.
8.It has an hypoglycaemic (sugar reducing) effect. It is good for diabetics
9. Increases Blood Volume and Boost Immune System
10. The high protein content in leaves of plants such as pumpkin could have supplementary effect for the daily protein requirement of the body.

Food forms… Fresh vs. canned vs. frozen…

Vegetable

Vegetable

BY Adeyeye Wole

Regarding nutrition, While it seems intuitive that frozen produce would be less nutritious than a fresh, leafy plant, this article will help bring to light the gospel truth…

Are there more vitamins in fresh, canned or frozen vegetables?

From the faRm to the table…

fresh produce is often picked before its peak of ripeness and shipped with minimal damage to its destination. During which fruits and vegetables are exposed to lots of heat and light which may diminish some of sensitive vitamins in the produce. fruit and vegetables being picked at a later date ensures its richness in nutrients.

From shelf to the table…

Canned vegetables can lose some of their vitamin C in heating process during canning, but when they are handled and canned quickly, much like frozen foods, the majority of nutrients are locked in and retained. Therefore, canned vegetables can have the same, if not more nutrients than fresh vegetables and the levels of these nutrients remain the same even after one to two years of storage.

From freezer to the table…

Frozen vegetables, on the other hand, are picked at the peak of ripeness then blanched and flash-frozen to remove bacteria and lock in their essential nutrients. The faster they are frozen after picking, the more nutrients they will retain. while fresh vegetables have a lifespan of only a week to two weeks at best, frozen vegetables can last much longer in the safety of your freezer.

Boiling vegetables also releases nutrients, so be sure to boil them for as little time as possible.

in essence, there is no difference in nutrition between fresh and frozen produce. Because of the nutrients that are lost due to most commercial food production of fresh produce, as well as the nutrients lost during the blanching and reheating processes of frozen food, the nutrient profiles of each are relatively the same.

Culled from – http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/vitamins-minerals/vitamins-in-veggies-fresh-vs-canned-vs-frozen.html#b

 

Roadside Vegetables: Are they safe for consumption?

A vegetable farm

On the outskirt of every major West African city I have been to – from Lagos to Cotonou, Lome to Accra – I have observed the growing tendency of concentrated, medium to large size, vegetable farms that produce varieties of vegetables to meet the demands of the city dwellers to dot the landscape.

I recall the good impression I had the first time I came across this type of vegetable farms along the Iyana Ipaja-Obadore-Ojo Expressway on the outskirt of Lagos Nigeria, in early 2008. Then, as recently graduated agriculturist, with focus on soil science, I thought it was great form of land use management, considering the land pressures – little land availability, competition for development purpose and infrastructures etc – and the massive, ever-growing population of Lagos which aggravates the land pressures.

But in recent times, with the benefit of more advanced education – mainly in the field of environmental biology/toxicology – I have come to realize the other, mainly negative, side of this kind of vegetable production that counterbalances the advantage of the good management of available land resources and raises the issue of public health concerns.

The issue is, these peri-urban farms are usually located along busy highways, with high-to-heavy vehicular movements, and the emissions from the exhaust of the vehicles passing by can lead to the deposition of harmful chemicals and toxic metals, chief among which is lead, on plants along the highways including those vegetables produced for human consumption.

The accumulation of lead in roadside soils and plants growing along highways varies with the traffic along such ways, research reports indicate that up to 50% of lead released from vehicle exhaust is deposited within 30meters of the road and the others scattered over a larger area of land.

Lead, a systemic poison, may accumulate to large amounts in plants beyond levels permissible for human consumption and thus have the tendency to build-up in these vegetables. Worse still, many plants, including popular Nigeria/West-African vegetables e.g. Celosia and Amaranthus, have the ability to accumulate large amounts of this toxic element without having any visible deleterious effect on their appearance or yield.

Lead poisoning can cause serious health effects in the human body, and ingesting it – in this case through vegetables – beyond level found to be permissible can result in health issues like nausea, anorexia and severe abdominal cramp, renal tubular dysfunction, muscle aches and joint pains, anaemia and weight loss. It can also pass through the placental barriers to cause miscarriages, abortions and stillbirths in pregnant women.

This contamination of roadside vegetables, with lead, is possible because of tetra ethyl lead (TEL) – a petrol/gasoline additive – often used as an anti-knock agent in petrol (or gasoline) used in vehicles which as a result makes the exhaust from automobiles rich in lead.  Although, the use of lead additives in petrol/gasoline has been completely banned by law or significantly reduced in many developed countries, a lot of developing countries, Nigeria inclusive, still rely on leaded petrol to power vehicles on their roads.

On solution to this issue, therefore, is to avoid the use of petrol/gasoline with lead additives in Nigeria – and other West African countries where this form of vegetable production is practiced – but taking into consideration the history of petrol production/use in Nigeria and the cost involved in switching to new technologies, plus the time required to achieve all that, then that may not happen anytime soon.

So, for now, ensuring that leafy vegetable farms are moved away and far enough, from roads with heavy vehicular movements seems the better and ready available alternative. In their place, other crops or fruity vegetables – whose leaves or roots are not consumed (e.g. maize or okra) or crops not grown for human/animal consumption (e.g. cotton or kenaf) can be planted on the roadside plots to maximize the use of land.

That way, we can prevent negative public health situations and the breeding of chronic diseases among cities’ populace while still getting as much as we can out of available land.

Photo: Agfax