Developing culturally acceptable peanut nutrition bars with smallholder women farmers in Kaffrine, Senegal
Allan, Edwin Yenbono
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Smallholder farming families in Senegal suffer from poverty with children deficient in micronutrients despite contributing 80% of food exported and consumed in Senegal. The aim of this study is to employ participatory action research to seek out hindrances with value-added processing and recommendations to develop a culturally acceptable and nutritious product for school-age children in partnership with smallholder women farmers in Kaffrine, Senegal. A survey was conducted with 60 smallholder farmers in the Diamal, Ndangane, Keur serigne djibel and Ngouye Siwakh communities to identify constraints to peanut farming and value-added processing. Interested male and female survey participants were invited to focus group discussions to provide depth to survey findings and develop ideas for a healthy peanut product. The survey and focus groups revealed quality seeds, farm input and income as the challenges to peanut farming and food security and access to mills and other post-harvest equipment, as community needs. The focus groups identified Quakers Peanut Butter Baked Squares as a reference for peanut product due to its similarity to local peanut cakes and selected corn flour, cowpea flour and baobab powder as healthy ingredients. From the surveys, all four communities were generally interested in value-added processing, and the women farmers identified as responsible for processing the harvest. The women were therefore selected to evaluate developed prototypes, which they found to have an acceptable taste but crumbly texture. Smallholder women farmers in Senegal, engaging in value-added agriculture, have the potential to improve farm income and food insecurity. A peanut nutrition bar was therefore developed with supports of smallholder farmers in Kaffrine, Senegal, informed with the use of healthy Indigenous ingredients and community-feasible methods gathered in the previous focus group interviews. This study used response surface methodology (RSM) with a central composite design to optimize the formulation for making the peanut nutrition bars. The RSM design included two formulation factors, the weight ratio of cowpea flour to corn flour, and the weight percentage of baobab powder in the cowpea-corn-baobab blend. The influence of the two formulation factors on the texture properties, nutrition profiles, water activity, and consumer acceptance was investigated. Cohesiveness and gumminess of the peanut nutrition bars were dependent on both the ratio of cowpea flour to corn flour and percent baobab powder in the mixture. Protein and folate contents were found to be dependent on the ratio of cowpea flour to corn flour and a decrease in water activity was observed with increasing percent baobab powder in the mixture. Statistical differences were not observed between the acceptance scores of peanut nutrition bars with baobab powder levels between 10-20% (w/w, d.b.), a Senegal local peanut product and an industry optimized peanut product. Formulations with cowpea flour to corn flour ratios between 50-75 and baobab levels below 20% were identified as having suitable texture, nutrition content and water activity to be easily adapted by the smallholder women farmers in Kaffrine.