Black-eyed Peas to the Rescue

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By Abisola Adekoya

While the process of baking bread may vary from culture to culture, there are a few essential ingredients utilized by bread makers the world over. They include:  flour, yeast, water, and salt.  Researchers at the Food Technology Institute of Dakar, Senegal, however, have decided to break with tradition by adding a rather unconventional ingredient to their bread batter—black-eyed peas.

Although once neglected, some predict black-eyed peas to be Senegal’s “crop of the future” (Photo Credit: Bernard Pollack)

Without sacrificing taste, bread made by substituting 15 percent of the wheat flour for black-eyed pea flour, is 40 percent cheaper than its all-wheat equivalent—and more nutritious.

Although black-eyed peas have been grown in Senegal for centuries, imported rice and wheat have overshadowed this nutritious crop that is rich in both potassium and vitamins A and C. In an attempt to maximize the revived interest in black-eyed peas, farmers and agricultural experts converged in Senegal last week, searching for ways to cultivate the crop to its full potential through the World Cowpea Research Conference. With any luck, their research will help ease the strain on African consumers to buy the most basic of food stuffs while spurring new interest in this traditional crop.

For more on Africa’s abundant indigenous crops see: The Little Legume That Could, A Little Crop That’s Come a Long Way, Many Good Reasons to Grow Teff, Amaranth: Food Production Without Attention, and African Eggplant: The Fruit that is Enjoyed as  Vegetable.

Abisola Adekoya is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet project.

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