1. Please describe your (scientific) work/research in a short way
As the acting head for the Department of Food and Nutrition Education of the University of Education, Winneba in Ghana, my research is aimed at re-discovering traditional plants as sustainable protein sources. Some of the traditional plants I am investigating currently include Sword bean (Canavalia gladiata), African Locust Bean (Parkia biglobosa) and the Bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranea). The research is focusing on both the raw and cooked seeds of these legumes, which are underutilized in Ghana. Properly harnessing these underutilized legumes may help assist in reducing poverty, hunger and undernourishment in the vulnerable group of the Ghanaian population. Current results indicate that these legumes are rich in crude protein (results were obtained in percent by the calculation N x 6.25 - Nitrogen times the factor 6.25). For the processed seeds (a form in which the seeds can be eaten), crude protein ranged between 18.48% in Vigna subterranea and 25.40% in Canavalia gladiata. Further research will focus on the bioavailability of the nutrients in these underutilized legumes.
2. Which aspect of a sustainable life, work and research is especially relevant for you and why?
I am very much interested in healthy diets and lifestyles. Currently, Ghana suffers from the double burden of malnutrition. Whiles part of the population are undernourished, others suffer from overweight, obesity or chronic diseases, which are diet-related. There is the need to increase the availability and consumption of locally available materials, and promote lifestyle activities such as walking, cycling and physical exercises. My current area of research, which focuses on locally available underutilized legumes, will help augment the effort aimed at alleviating double burden of material.
The research contributes to effort towards achieving the first three SDGS (Sustainable Development Goals) No Poverty, Zero Hunger and Good Health and Well-being.
3. What would be your wish for the future (and why) with this regard?
My wish is that in future, there will be food security for all. This potentially may lead to reduction in deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in nutrients consumption. This may help in reducing diet-related health conditions. Outcome of my ongoing research may lead to the increase in the cultivation (by farmers) and usage of underutilized legumes (by the general population). Government can create a market for farmers who cultivate these legumes and this will result in improvement in the finances of the farmers to reduce poverty. The increased production and consumption of the underutilized legumes (and indeed other underutilized edible plants) will help improve food security for all.
4. How is the Corona virus affecting you in your every-day life and work?
The Corona virus has affected everyday life in Ghana. We now have to adhere to the COVID-19 preventive measures by wearing nose masks, practice social distancing, regularly clean our hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer or wash our hands with soap and water, etc. Between March and December 2020, the Government of Ghana made students stay at home. Workers in the university carried out their duties but with minimal face-to-face contact. Workers got connected more times through e-mails, ZOOM and video conferencing. In January 2021, schools were reopened with strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols by staff, students and all who do business with the university. In my university, much of the lecture period is now online (using MOODLE, ZOOM, GOOGLE CLASSROOM) and the amount of time for face-to-face lectures has been reduced.