QUALITY OF COCOYAM CORMELS AS AFFECTED BY STORAGE METHODS – Colocasia esculenta

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CHAPTER ONE

     1.0       INTRODUCTION

Cocoyam is a crop valued for its tubers and leaves in West Africa and beyond. In recent times, there is an increase in demand and consumption of ‘local’ food in Nigeria. This rise is as a result of the widely held belief that these local delicacies are natural and hence obviate fear of contamination from consumption of processed or artificial food (Igbozulike A. O, 2015).

Cocoyams (Colocasia esculenta) are herbaceous perennial plants belonging to the family araceae and are grown primarily for their edible roots. It originated from India and spread to Egypt and Nigeria. They are among the tuberous roots well adapted to most agro‐ecological zones in Nigeria.

Nigeria was leading in the production of cocoyam in 2003 as the country produced about 3.5metric tons of the crop (FAO, 2006). This quantity, the author noted, contributed to about 40% of the world’s cocoyam. Echebiri (2008) stated that the crop ranks 3rd among the root tuber crops cultivated and consumed in Nigeria. They contain digestible starch, good quality protein, vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and high scores of essential amino acids (Lewu and Adebola, 2010). The corm, cormels, and leaves are important sources of carbohydrates for human consumption and animal feed, and a good source of income for farmers.The crop is grown in marginal soils by farmers especially women. IITA (2007) reported that the crop when harvested can be fried, boiled or roasted and eaten with oil or pounded after boiling and eaten with soup as foo-foo. According to Information and Communication Support for Agricultural Growth in Nigeria, (ICSAGN, 2012), cocoyam cormels are peeled, cut into pieces then boiled and eaten; or boiled, pounded and eaten like pounded yam while flour is made from dried cormels. In spite of all the health benefits, cocoyamare faced with a major problem, which is high susceptibility to physical damage, during harvesting leading to high postharvest losses, efforts to reduce loss of cocoyam in storage at the NRCRI, Umudike, 2015 led to the practice of burying cocoyam in the swamp. This is workable but it has many disadvantages. The stored cocoyam usually sprouts and starts normal growth within four (4) weeks. Sprouting is one of the avenues of high physiological losses. In a review of post-harvest losses of cocoyam (Nwufo and Atu, 1987), reported 50% losses after two months and about 95 % after five months as a result of sprouting, this is a good reason for the crop to be neglected by many farmers. It then becomes necessary to evaluate the present postharvest operations of cocoyam with a view to ascertain their adequacy to preserve its quality through a long period of time, and highlights the areas that need research focus to drive revolutionary approach in cocoyam study and guarantee value addition to cocoyam food chain. Thus, this thesis reviews efforts in cocoyam research so far and propose ways to meet up with future demands.

  1. Statement of Problem

In any human endeavor, there are bound to be some obstacles to achieving exception to this general rule. Hence, this research is designed to find out the problems of cocoyam storage in Ibarapa Central Local Government Area of Oyo State.

1.2       Objectives of this project are:

i. To investigate the effects of storage on the quality of cocoyam cormel.

ii. To examine changes in cormels during storage.

iii. To control the rate of quality loss in cocoyam storage.

iv. To present a better method of storing cocoyam to reduce post harvest loss.

1.3       Justification

The high rate of decrease in the quality of cocoyam cormels and yearly loss experienced by farmer for inability to preserve cocoyam tubers for all planting season justifies the need for this research.

1.4       Scope of the Study

This study is centered on the storage of cocoyam in our local government council (Ibarapa Central) with emphasis on the cocoyam quality.

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