Workshop on Promoting Health and Food Security with Indigenous Crops

Workshop on Promoting Health and Food Security with Indigenous Crops

Posted by Saleha Akter

The ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Uniquely Australian Foods has organized a two-day Joint virtual workshop on ‘Promoting Health and Food Security with Indigenous Crops’ with the Phytochemical Food Network (SARChI programme) at the Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa. Prof Ing. Ladislav Kokoška from the Department of Crop Sciences and Agroforestry of the Faculty of Tropical AgriSciences, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, The Czech Republic was present at the workshop as a guest speaker and presented on ‘Underutilized crops as novel foods for health and nutrition improvement: A Samoa case study’. PhD and Masters’ students from the University of Queensland and Tshwane University of Technology have presented at the workshop.

Day 1 (5th March)

The workshop started early in the morning at Pretoria, South Africa with great enthusiasm and massive participation from the students and staff of the Tshwane University of Technology. While in Brisbane, it was late afternoon. Dr Oladipupo Adiamo chaired the first day of the workshop and he started the agenda by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the Australian lands. Professor Yasmina Sultanbawa inaugurated the seminar and addressed her welcome speech by emphasizing the various aspects of global food systems challenges and the importance of utilization of Indigenous crops to mitigate some of the challenges. She reiterated that the workshop aims to share the evidence-based research on the nutritional, bioactive and functional properties of Indigenous crops, impact of processing methods on phytonutritional compounds and antinutrients in Indigenous crop and product development and value addition. She also mentioned that this workshop aims to improve research collaborations between the two institutions and encourages participation of postgraduate and early career researchers. Two PhD Students from UQ presented their works; Samson O. Fawale presented on Australian bush tucker yams (Dioscorea spp.) and Jiale Zhang presented on the Australian native Persoonia spp. Nobahle P. Cele from TUT presented on Indigenous legumes.

Day 2 (6th March)

Dr Saleha Akter chaired the second day of the workshop, and she started the agenda by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the Australian lands. Gengning Chen from UQ presented on Burdekin plum and Lebo Ruth Maila from TUT presented on okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) leaves. Chenxuan Xie from UQ presented on muntries and Lavhelani Tshilongo from TUT presented on purple-fleshed sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) leaves. Overall, the participants of the workshop enjoyed the fascinating talks from the presenters and applauded profusely for the presenters.

In her closing address, Professor Dharini Sivakumar highlighted the importance of reviving interest in and cultivating indigenous crops as a potential solution to food insecurity and the growing loss of biodiversity. Traditional crop varieties have the potential to enhance nutrition and health, stimulate local economies, enhance resilience to climate change, preserve agricultural biodiversity, and protect cultural heritage.

Concluding thoughts

The virtual workshop is a great opportunity to showcase the outstanding research and innovation taking place at the University of Queensland and Tshwane University of Technology. Future workshop opportunity will strengthen the existing relationship and collaboration between the two institutes.

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