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Sent: 15 July 2004 07:45
Subject: 67: Re: Biotechnology and starter cultures
I am Alex Owusu-Biney, National Biosafety Project Coordinator tasked to help develop a National Biosafety Framework for Ghana. I work at the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute in Ghana. My background is in biochemistry and have had some additional training in technology policy and information management issues especially in biotechnology and biosafety.
I have been following the present discussions with keen interest. And would want to extend my appreciation to the organisers for us to share on biotechnology and processing related issues.
I agree with Steven Gendel on the issues raised in message 64 (July 14). There has been some work on starter cultures including the Fermented foods programme by WAITRO (World Association of Industrial and Technological Research Organizations). What we need to do is to try to harness some of these achievements in the development and commercial processes for starter culture industries. In the case of Africa, there are a lot of Africans dispersed in America and Europe who crave for fermented African foods. The problem is access to readily available easy to constitute starter cultures. Just like baker's yeast in dry and powdered forms, some of these cultures could be packaged and exported for various kinds of foods e.g. kenkey, soumbala etc. Some wet and probably uncharacterised cultures are sent sometimes out of Africa in small quantities presently. Some people drive miles in America and Europe for good fermented African foods.
What is needed is consistency and purity and well characterised cultures that will ensure acceptable flavour and related sensory qualities. Such cultures could also assist mass production of some of our fermented foods and reduce the drudgery and the long processing time.
Biotechnology can be used to improve the quality of the organisms involved in starter cultures through characterisation of the genetic information of the microorganisms.
I believe there are commercial opportunities and there is the need for fermentation scientists and biotechnologists to engage industry in developing starter cultures for specific fermented foods which can be upstreamed for mass production and export of dry starter cultures.
This could create opportunities for regional and international cooperation as raised by Ashok Seth (message 66, July 14).
National Project Coordinator,
UNEP/GEF Project on "Development of National Biosafety Frameworks"
Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute
P. O. Box LG. 80, Legon
bineya (at) idngh.com