THE University of Zimbabwe has made a scientific breakthrough in the food industry after producing a sorghum-based pasta.
The innovative breakthrough was made by one of the university’s students, Blessing Gwekwe, who is doing a doctorate degree in the Faculty of Sciences under the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Science.
In an interview with Chronicle at the university stand at the just-ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) yesterday, Gwekwe said the idea to produce pasta out of sorghum was a result of calls by the Government to add value to local traditional grains.
“Through Government funding under the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science, Innovation and Technology, under the Future Grains for Africa Programme, we embarked on this interesting initiative,” he said.
Gwekwe said it took six months to make the breakthrough. “Sorghum pasta has interesting health benefits, it has smart carbohydrates such as carbohydrates that digest slowly,” he explained.
“So, when consumed the blood sugar levels increase slowly, and this is a good recommendation for people with diabetes. The pasta is rich in iron, zinc and other micro nutrients.
“It is gluten-free, thus, people with gluten intolerance can consume it safely. It possesses some anti-oxidant activity hence may help regulate some degenerative conditions related to free radicals when consumed,” said Gwekwe.
He said the sorghum pasta is prepared in the same manner as the traditional flour-based pasta.
“The pasta is convenient as it takes only five minutes to prepare, it is available in 200g and 400g packets. There were challenges in coming up with the pasta as it took time for the university to procure the extruder for the processing since it was imported from China,” said Gwekwe.
He said the university has since entered into a partnership with the Grain Marketing Board to commercialise the product.
“There are many startup companies at the University of Zimbabwe and partnerships in various forms are strongly invited. As an institution, the University of Zimbabwe is proud to contribute to society in addition to its income generation target,” he said, stating that so far the university had managed to package the new product in small quantities.
He said he was proud to be a UZ student as he was a living testimony of the advancing education system.
“The outcome also testifies that the University of Zimbabwe has adopted an education system and programs that are relevant and directly address the needs of the society in terms of producing tangible goods and services,” he said – The Herald