The marama bean is an underutilized crop native to the Kalahari desert and neighbouring sandy regions and forms part of the diet of the indigenous populations. It is an excellent source of quality protein (30-39%); its oil (35-43%) is rich in mono- and di -unsaturated fatty acids and contains no cholesterol. Marama is a good source of micronutrients such as calcium, iron, zinc, phosphate, magnesium, B vitamins and folate. It is also reported to be a potential source of phytonutrients including isoflavones , tannins, trypsin inhibitors, phytates and oligosaccharides, components which have been shown in other foods to contribute to health in particular prevention of non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and some cancers.
Despite the potential value of the marama bean, there has been very little research effort at increasing its commercial value. A previous EU funded project (MARAMA) looked at its production and recommended further research to develop marama as a crop to benefit from this important natural resource. MARAMAII will use a market driven approach to develop innovative high quality and healthful marama bean food products to target niche markets in Southern Africa and internationally. It is expected that the project will create awareness amongst the stakeholders in the agricultural value chain of the potential of marama, the range of products that could be produced, the quality and desirable attributes of the bean and value added products, the health effects of consuming, and potential target markets.
The project will work closely with small and medium enterprises in Southern Africa and build capacity for commercial processing of the marama bean. The findings of MARAMAII will contribute to the objectives of this call, increasing the food security of populations in Southern Africa, diversifying rural livelihoods into income generating activities while increasing the quality of foods consumed.
Call for proposal
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Funding SchemeSTREP - Specific Targeted Research Project