Are you "in the know" about the mighty peanut? Participants at the October Agriculture Sector Council Seminar got the inside scoop from a true peanut expert. Last week, Dr. Jonathan H. 'Tim' Williams, Director of the Peanut Collaborative Research Support Program (Peanut CRSP), paid a visit to Washington to discuss the program's scope of research and how the peanut can influence community health in developing countries. You can view the full screencast or download the presentation here.
The peanut has great potential to improve food security and nutrition in rural populations in Africa. This humble legume is nutrient-dense (packed with protein, healthy oils, and micronutrients like Vitamin E, folate, and iron); edible both cooked and raw; and suitable as a weaning food, a quick and healthy school snack, or a Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF). The Peanut CRSP has helped African farmers achieve two to three times better yields with improved varieties and soap-based fungicides. The Peanut CRSP also manages projects that facilitate processing, marketing, and establishment of peanut butter cottage industries.
Unfortunately, peanut crops around the world are plagued by a fungus that produces aflatoxin. Aflatoxin is a known carcinogen that, when chronically consumed, can lead to suppressed immunity, stunted growth, and increased risk for liver cancer. Proper sorting and storage greatly decrease risk; however, the poorest often lack the knowledge and resources to evade this toxin. Dr. Williams spoke of the promise of toxin-binding agents, which can be added directly to food, rendering it safe for human consumption. He also stressed the need to incorporate mycotoxin management into HIV, TB, and malaria programming.
In the video below, Dr. Williams discusses the key takeaways from his presentation. To learn more about the December 2011 Peanut CRSP Strategic Research Conference in St. Julian's, Malta, please click here.