Three groups of students from the Department of Food Science and Technology, University for Development Studies (UDS) have won grants to produce bread for commercial purposes using the Fonio grain.
The groups, made up of four members each, won GHc5,500, GHc4,500, and GHc3,000 as first, second and third placed prizes in that order as part of a competition dubbed: “Grand Challenge”, organised by the UDS in partnership with the University of Lincoln, United Kingdom.
A total of 50 students participated in the competition where the number was trimmed down to 16 students of four groups, with the three groups finally winning the competition.
Professor Francis Amaglo, Associate Professor of Food Science and Technology, and Dean of Graduate School, UDS, during an exhibition of Fonio bread in Tamale to announce winners of the Grand Challenge, said the Fonio project by the UDS and the University of Lincoln, UK was about adding value to the Fonio grain.
The students exhibited bread they baked as part of the competition using Fonio, which was tested and assessed by a panel of judges, and other participants during the event.
Fonio, an African grain, is classified as super food containing a lot of bioactive properties, and is also gluten-free.
Therefore, using Fonio to bake bread means that the country will reduce her dependence on imported wheat flour whilst improving the health of the population.
Professor Amaglo spoke about the Grand Challenge saying “We gave the students recipes on how to develop bread. We coached them, and today we have marketable products from Fonio. So, we have added value to Fonio, and the positive impact is reducing wheat flour in bread baking. So, this is a huge potential for the market.”
He said “Fonio does not contain gluten. Gluten is the component in wheat flour, which has negative impact on health. So, by using Fonio, we have taken that negative health impact away.”
He urged the public to patronise Fonio bread to help improve the country’s economy and health of the population.
Professor Seidu Al-hassan, Vice-chancellor of UDS, who was represented at the event, advised the students to be focused and bake the bread according to standard emphasising that the research be continued to advance the Fonio project.
Dr Lilian Korir, who represented the UK Partners under the project, commended the students for their hard work to come out with the Fonio recipes.
Miss Beatrice Noboilega, member of the group that won the first place in the Grand Challenge, expressed excitement at the feat chalked saying “We never anticipated this.”
She said “we used natural fermentation to bake the bread. So, it is sourdough bread” adding the group would work hard to bake more bread as well as diversify to other Fonio products.
Meanwhile, the students would be attached to the UDS’ Business Incubation and Innovation Centre for further coaching to refine their business ideas where they would be producing the bread through the Department of Food Science and Technology.