Who We Are
A multidisciplinary team of natural and social scientists from the Universities of Saskatchewan and Manitoba (Canada) and MeKelle University (Ethiopia) that are working to develop innovative cereal-pulse based food products to address global issues of malnutrition.
This is a multi-million dollar initiative funded through the Global Institute of Food Security (GIFS), the Saskatchewan Agricultural Development Fund, and Growing Forward 2.
The project is broken down into 5 integrated focus areas:
1. Community engagement and needs assessment
The project will survey all relevant reports of dietary intakes and ready-to-use food assistance products used in Ethiopia, and undertake a community needs assessment to better understand the nutritional needs of communities within the Tigray region. Innovative food assistance products developed as part of this project will be evaluated from a sensory/consumer acceptance perspective within the participating communities. Our researchers will also contribute to community-based nutritional education by promoting the benefits of supplementing cereal-based diets with pulses to optimize for protein quality.
2. Issues affecting market access
The project will carry out extensive interviews with key stakeholders along the food assistance product supply chain (processors, organization reps, etc) in Ethiopia to better understand the socioeconomic and institutional factors related to supply chain organization and management. Accessibility, affordability and acceptability of products will be considered.
3. Improving protein quality
Researchers will study a wide range of pulse and cereal flours for their protein quality using PDCAAS and DIAAS digestion methods in order to optimize blended formulations. The physicochemical (including characterizing the levels of anti-nutritional compounds) and functional properties of individual and blended flours will be investigated for product development purposes, and the impact of processing (e.g., germination, infrared heating, fermentation, enzymatic modification, acid/base modification, extrusion and so on) as a means for improving protein quality will be explored.
4. Product development
Fortified blended cereals and a lipid-based ready-to-eat nutritional supplement will be developed using the blended cereal-pulse flours, optimized for protein quality and functionality. Products will target WFP specifications, be comprised of all non-GMO ingredients, have an extended shelf life, and be economically sustainable, affordable and acceptable to the consumer. Products will target children 6 months to 5 years suffering from moderately acute malnutrition.
5. Economic potential
The project will work to develop business cases associated with each product and carry out a market assessment along the various potential supply chain routes from food assistance-type products. Wider markets for the developed products/ingredients will be explored, along with potential partnerships to move the technology and/or products into the food assistance community.