Reportedly, this new technology is simple, inexpensive, and uses nothing but local ingredients. It can, for example, produce leavened loaves using sorghum, millets, and other African grains.

Leavening with Fungus

Recently, food scientists in India have found that fermenting a mixture of grain and pulse (legume seed) can produce a gum thick enough to act like gluten. This special process, locally known as idli or dosai fermentation, involves the microorganisms Leuonostoc mesenteroides, which is used in other parts of the world for producing dextran gums from sucrose. Using this fermentation, a mixture of rice and dahl (made with black gram or other legume) can be turned into a dough that will produce breadlike products without employing any gluten. Either the legume, the microorganisms, or the combination produces a gum that holds the carbon dioxide gas, thereby leavening the products. It is a fermentation that enables raised breads to be

The Wheat Trap

Africa is finding itself more and more caught up in what is being termed the "wheat trap." During the past 20 or 30 years, certain governments as well as private companies have responded to consumer demand by establishing wheat mills. As a result, various countries now spend large amounts of foreign exchange importing wheat to feed those mills. The bulk of the flour produced is used to make bread for the working population, as well as for the small expatriate population living in the towns and cities.

Bread is a convenient food because it is ready to eat, easily carried around, and not messy like porridges and gruels. Its taste is highly acceptable, it gives a feeling of bulk and fullness, and it is relatively cheap. With large numbers of people migrating from rural areas to the cities, the demand for bread has increased.

However, the population is being fed on food the country does not grow, with scarce foreign exchange being used to import wheat to produce flour. More foreign exchange is also spent on spare parts and foreign managers to maintain and run the flour mills. The process not only damages the economy but the indigenous African cereals as well. They are being left in a state of underdevelopment and inadequate processing.

J. Maud Kordylas



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement