A journey into diverse Brazilian traditional edible plants

Brazilian academicians, a member of Ethiopia-Brazil-Mozambique joint project aimed at creating awareness on traditional edible plants in respective countries in their visit to AMU, have shared valuable knowledge about Brazilian fauna in a workshop held on 31st March, 2017.

The visitors have been touring some parts of Ethiopia identifying traditional edible plants, to ascertain the nutritional value of them and propose their promotion through school and public feeding programs in order to enrich the local diet thus ensuring food security across Ethiopia.

During the workshop, a veteran researcher of Sao Paulo University, Prof. Lin Chau Ming, on ‘Brazilian Xavante Indian community,’ said, this unique community live along Das Mortes and Araguaia rivers in Mato Grosso State in 488 pockets covering 105 million hectares of land that constitutes 12.4% of Brazilian territory; and a special law is in place for their well-being.

On socio-economic evolution, he said, they are unique in a way as their social, cultural and religious beliefs were characterized by archaic beliefs. In this matriachical society, an elderly lady has exclusive rights to keep seeds, which can be procured by family members for farming.

They generally grow soybean, cotton and consume Amazon yam, cassava, different tubers, wild fruits and vegetation. Despite their distinctive social mores, lately they got into mainstream pursuing modern education, accepted multi-cultural cuisine and professing Christianity.

Prof Nuno R Madeira of Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA) stressing on traditional vegetable crops, said, it improves the food and nutritional security and sovereignty by its resilience, great adaptability and nutra-ceutical characteristics.

His diverse kitty of Brazilian edible plants seem to be a treasure for culinary delight, as he begins with yam (dioscorea cayanensis), cylindrical yellow species indigenous to West Africa, in Brazil these tubers are baked, boiled, roasted, fried, or used raw as a salad vegetable.

Jiló (Solanum gilo), is a type of eggplant popular in parts of Brazil originated from Africa. Portulaca plants are native to Brazil while Hibiscus Sabdariffa, a supplemental herb or sour tea appears to inhibit carbohydrate absorption likely to be effective in reducing blood pressure.

Maxixe, a vegetable similar to cucumber originated in Africa, Okra, also known as ‘lady's finger,’ or ‘bamia pod’ is one of the favorite nutritious vegetables of North-East African origin and Chufa (Cyperus esculentus), a crop of the sedge family an important food element in ancient Egypt and Xanthosoma riedelianum (Margarita) a genus of flowering plants is native to Mato Grosso in Brazil, he revealed.

Similarly, Acmella Oleracea, a flowering herb of Asteraceae family, called toothache plant, paracress, sechuan button, buzz buttons and electric daisy in Brazil is known as Jambu. Its extract is a natural alternative to Botox that is applied topically. He also spoke about Yam, Winged and Congo beans, Anredera, Sorrel, etc.

Prof. Ari de Freitas of Amazon Federal University, said, ‘‘Amazon, is home to 10% of all plant and animal species on Earth, it covers 2.6 million square miles across nine countries - Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana of which 60% of Amazon basin is in Brazil.’’

The workshop was attended by AMU researchers, academic staff and students; Mr Betewulign Ademe anchored the program.

(Corporate Communication Directorate)