Exhibition at the Africa week, University of Pretoria, South AfricaMR L Manana

Prepared by Yisa Njowe and Prof Emmambux | University of Pretoria

The University of Pretoria on May 24 – 26, hosted the Africa Week 2023 at the Future Africa Campus in Pretoria, South Africa. The Africa Week is a biennial event that brought together leaders of prominent African and global scientific networks to setup international transdisciplinary initiatives, in partnership with South Africa’s Department of Science and Innovation and the National Research Foundation (DSI-NRF). This year’s theme: ‘Open Africa, Open Science’, encouraged African scientists, academics and researchers to embrace the growing Open Science Movement and get more involved in solving world problems.

Prof Emmambux presented an overview of the InnoFood Africa project which brought together five African partners and four European partners, the kind of initiative that the organisers of the event encourage. He mentioned that the project’s goal was to valorise African grains from farm to fork to contribute to food security. The project also had an exhibition stand which was manned on different days by postgraduate students: Charles Antwi, Anton Venter, Zeinab Asadi, Sarah Kandolo, Yisa Njowe, and Prof Emmambux. 

Bambara groundnut plant, orange flesh sweet potato plant, orange flesh sweet potato tuber, beta-carotene-rich orange flesh sweet potato flour and chips, Bambara groundnuts and quick cooking Bambara groundnuts, two varieties of sorghum grains, two varieties of tef grains, two varieties of cowpea (UP partners); tef crackers, cowpea crackers, amaranth crackers (VTT partners); nutrient-dense ready-to-eat porridge (Nofima partner);  low and high-fibre expanded snacks, refined and antioxidant-rich sorghum pasta (UP partners) were on display on the IFA exhibition stand. Also, work from the UP communication’s department headed by Prof Shakila Dada was on display. This work involved published public articles and manuals that were translated from English to some African local languages (Amharic, Zulu, Xhosa, Tshona and others) which demonstrated that the technologies developed in the IFA project are being communicated and transferred to the local populace in their mother tongue to improve their knowledge and understanding of the nutrition and farming technologies of the indigenous crops.  

Some visitors to the stand were familiar with a few of the grains (sorghum, cowpea and Bambara groundnuts) which brought childhood memories of the farming, traditional dishes and drinks made from these grains. The visitors were impressed with the food prototypes on display and showed great interest and willingness to try them. They expressed their impatience and cannot wait to have these products in the market.

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