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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 2 (2012 Deadline)

Development of edible and medicinal mushrooms as functional foods in Ghana

PI: Mary Baaru Obodai (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Food Research Institute)
U.S. Partner: Steven J. Schwartz (The Ohio State University)
Project Dates: August 2013 to October 2016
 
Across the world, including Ghana, edible wild mushrooms are commonly collected when in season. Mushrooms are low in fat and sugars, a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals and most importantly, are the only vegetable that contains all nine essential amino acids. Edible mushrooms have attracted much interest as functional foods due to their antimutagenic, anti-tumor and anti-viral properties. Food product development must address these changing consumer demands; the development of a convenient mushroom-based functional food is one example. Thus, the goals of this project are to (1) develop methods to cultivate different mushrooms in Ghana and assess nutritional quality, (2) develop a mushroom-based infant functional food and (3) assess the consumer acceptability of the new mushroom product. Four species of mushrooms--two oyster mushrooms, monkey seat, and termite mushrooms--will be cultivated as part of the project, using agricultural residues and tissue culture methods to transform organic waste into food. Product development will initially focus on infant food, guided by the needs of consumers and considering both technical feasibility and profitability.

The U.S. partner will provide technical training to Dr. Obodai and a member of her group, and unemployed women and rural groups will be targeted as the workforce for production of the food products to be developed
Obodai 1
Caregivers trying out the mushroom cereal bl (Photo courtesy Dr. Obodai).
. The anticipated outcomes of the project include four mushroom species available for use and further product development, a new market-tested mushroom-based product ready for commercialization, and a trained workforce to grow and produce the initial mushroom product. Ultimately, the project researchers hope that expanding children’s diets to include mushroom products will reduce the burden of malnutrition and improve food security in Ghana and throughout Africa.

Summary of Recent Activities
Dr. Mary Obodai’s project has come to an end. The project had three main goals: (1) to develop methods to cultivate different mushrooms in Ghana and assess nutritional quality; (2) to develop a mushroom-based infant functional food; and (3) to assess the consumer acceptability of the new mushroom products. Dr. Obodai and her project team anticipated that the outcomes of the project would include four mushroom species available for use and further product development, a new market-tested mushroom-based product ready for commercialization, and a trained workforce to grow and produce the initial mushroom product. Ultimately, they hoped that expanding children’s diets to include mushroom products would reduce the burden of malnutrition and improve food security in Ghana and throughout Africa.

At the end of the project, Dr. Obodai reports that three mushroom-based products were developed for children ages 2 to 5. These are: mushroom orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) mash, mushroom soup mix, and mushroom-based cereal mix. These were developed from mushroom varieties such as Pleurotus ostreatus strain EM1, P. sajor-caju strain PSCW, P. tuber-regium strain PTR, Ganoderma lucidum strain GLA, Auricularia auricula strain AU, and Termitomyces species. The team also carried out sensory evaluation and consumer acceptability tests for 60 caregivers of children ages 2 to 5. The caregivers selected mushroom-based cereal mix made from Pleurotus ostreatus strain EM1 and P. sajor-caju strain PSCW for use. These caregivers were consequently trained in the cultivation and use of mushrooms for the production of mushroom-based cereal mix. Three mushroom demonstration sites were set up in Kukrantumi in the Eastern Region, Hohoe in the Volta Region, and Accra in the Greater Accra Region.

Dr. Obodai and her team also analyzed 57 mushroom samples from two selected forests (Ayum and Atiwa) for bioactive compounds such as beta-glucan, ergothioene, and vitamin D. Most of the selected species contained varying amounts of these compounds. These results form the basis for further biotechnological applications. The PI has two manuscripts currently in preparation, and she hopes to continue her collaboration with her U.S. partner in writing future manuscripts, as the project has generated a great amount of data.

In summary, Dr. Obodai’s institution, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research- Food Research Institute (CSIR-FRI), has incorporated the new mushroom products into the mushroom cultivation training that they conduct twice per year. The developed mushroom-based foods will also be promoted at workshops organized by CSIR-FRI. Their enhanced nutritional properties, which have been documented, will be published in leaflets and handouts and distributed at workshops organized by the Institute.



 
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