IITA scientists recommend packaging and storage for yellow-seeded maize flour

Research has shown that compared to other packaging and storage facilities, polyvinyl plastic containers (PPC) and dark compartment storage have the highest retention of Pro-vitamin A carotenoid (pVAC) and xanthophylls in yellow-seeded maize.

Pro-vitamin A carotenoid (pVAC) foods contribute to the reduction of vitamin A deficiency diseases within the human body. Yellow-seeded maize flour, being a pVAC-rich food, needs the right packaging materials and storage conditions that retain pVAC as it is essential for health benefits.

Traditionally, maize flour is stored in different packaging materials to increase its shelf life. For this reason, research has been carried out to investigate the effect of storage packaging materials such as polypropylene woven sacks (PWS), high-density polyethylene bags (HDPE), polyvinyl plastic containers (PPC), and storage condition associated with temperature and relative humidity, in retaining pVAC in yellow-seed maize flour.

Yellow-seeded maize flour. Photo: www.iita.org

In achieving the above, a sample of yellow-maize grains was collected from the Maize Improvement Program of IITA, Ibadan, ground into flour, divided into portions, packed and sealed in PWS, HDPE, and PPC. Some of the packed samples were stored in an upper compartment of a storage wooden box, lightened with aluminum foil and fitted with fluorescent tube to increase the light intensity; others were in the lower compartment darkened with gloss black. The flour samples were stored for 28 days, while samples were collected for pVAC and xanthophylls analyses at 7-day intervals using standard methods.

The outcome demonstrated how PPC packaging and dark compartment storage resulted in the highest pVAC of 92.39% and xanthophylls, 89.44% retention and retinol equivalent (RE) (0.40 µg/g), while HDPE packaging and lighted compartment storage resulted in the lowest pVAC of 44.92% and xanthophylls, 46.76% retention and RE (0.19 µg/g). In line with this, PPC packaging and dark compartment storage is recommended for maximum retention of carotenoids in yellow-seeded maize flour.

The article can be found here: Impact of packaging material and storage condition on retention of provitamin A carotenoids and xanthophylls in yellow-seeded maize flour. Functional Foods in Health and Disease 2018 by Awoyale W., Alamu E.O., Maziya-Dixon B., Menkir A., Irondi, E.A. https://doi.org/DOI#

This article originally appeared here on the IITA website: www.iita.org

Community-led conservation: saving a giant landrace

Within a lush and humid valley in the state of Nayarit on Mexico’s Pacific coast, a giant resides. The local maize landrace, named ‘Jala’ after the valley in which it grows, produces the biggest maize ears in the world. Its plants grow to such a height the only way to harvest the ears is on horseback. However, despite its vigor and size, the survival of this landrace is at risk as its genetic diversity fades and young people who might carry on growing traditions leave the rural land looking for a better life.

A new maize festival, launched in December 2018 aims to improve this remarkable landrace’s future by encouraging farmers to protect its genetic potential and creating a space for young people to have their views heard. The festival is a collaboration between Denise Costich, head of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) maize gene bank, Carolina Camacho of CIMMYT’s socioeconomics program, Victor Vidal of INIFAP-Nayarit and local partners including Gilberto Gonzalez, Ricardo Cambero, Alondra Maldonado, Ismael Elias, Renato Olmedo (CIMMYT), and Miguel Gonzalez Lomelí. Meanwhile, CIMMYT researchers are studying the landrace’s genetic diversity with hopes of preserving its quality and working with farmers to safeguard its future. Research is also exploring the challenges around creating an enabling environment that will allow improved livelihoods through leveraging the merits of the local landrace maize.

Biofortification of maize with provitamin A can reduce aflatoxin load

New research evidence could have significant implications for breeding approaches to combat harmful aflatoxin contamination in maize while simultaneously contributing to alleviate vitamin A deficiency. The study ‘Provitamin A Carotenoids in Grain Reduce Aflatoxin Contamination of Maize While Combating Vitamin A Deficiency’ is the first published report to document how biofortification – the process by which staple crops are bred to increase micronutrient content in their edible parts to address hidden hunger – with provitamin A (proVA) can contribute to reduce aflatoxin contamination in maize, thereby addressing two major health concerns.

Maize infected with the fungus Aspergillus flavus, causing ear rot and producing aflatoxins. Photo: George Mahuku/CIMMYT.

Aflatoxins are harmful compounds that are produced by the fungus Aspergillus flavus, which can be found in the soil, plants and grain of a variety of legumes and cereals including maize. Toxic to humans and animals, aflatoxins are associated with liver and other cancers and weakened immune systems that result in increased burden of disease, micronutrient deficiencies, and stunting or underweight development in children.

International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2019

Overall, women account for only 28 percent of the world’s researchers according to data from the UN. Over the past 15 years, the global community has made a lot of effort to inspire and engage women and girls in science. However, a significant gender gap persists at all levels of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, and women and girls continue to be excluded from participating fully in science.

Science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals and the UN sustainable development agenda.