Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Friday, June 3, 2011

Processing oil-rich and drought-tolerant marama beans into new commercial products

31/05/2001. Scientists in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa have spent years working on a Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) funded project to domesticate the indigenous marama bean for use in commercial farming in arid regions. The project, known as Development of innovative and healthful marama bean (Tylosema esculentum) products targeting niche markets and which began in 2007, is being undertaken with colleagues in Denmark, Slovenia and Portugal. The Swedish International Development Agency is also funding the project.

The United Nations Development Programme-run
Country Partnership Programme (PPP) for Integrated
Sustainable Land Management has boosted
the Marama domestication project by giving it
N$250 000 for one year in Namibia.
The marama bean project has examined many aspects of commercial production, including identifying which varieties of the protein-rich bean are high-yielding. The researchers have found that the oil-rich marama beans are more nutritious than soya beans, although there are significant regional differences, which may be due to soil variation. The scientists have also made new value-added products from the drought-tolerant bean, including roasted nuts, butter, milk, yoghurt, oil, flour and cookies.

Food scientists Amanda Minnaar from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, Aase Hansen from the University of Copenhagen, in Denmark, and Margarida Dias Lima de Faria from the Tropical Research Institute of Portugal (Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical) helped process the bean into new commercial products. The Rural Industries Promotions Company in Botswana developed a bean cracker prototype to assist with removing part of the outer husk and separating the edible component from the husk.

A report by 11 of the researchers in the South African Journal of Science (SAJS) also confirmed the traditional use of marama beans as a herbal medicine, in the first such study done.

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