Buckwheat: A novel pseudocereal to feed 6b people
December 11th, 2013 | Mohsin Tanveer | No Comments
To feed the ever-increasing population has been always great deal of interest for agriculturists. Once green revolution saved millions of lives from the mouth of death by introducing short stature and fertilizer responsive crops, however, problems encountered during post revolution era included deterioration of natural resources and environmental concerns. Alas! decrease in yield potential of those crops, climate change and inevitable abiotic stresses again taken us to alpha, where we worked so hard to ensure food security. However, nature has blessed us with numerous blessings to cope with food security problems. Buckwheat is one of those blessings, botanically belongs to Chenopeacae and recognized as pseudocereal. Botanical description of the plant depicted it as short, wide spreading plant bearing brought green, heart shaped leaves with small white flowers. Buckwheat can be a reliable cover crop in summer to fit a small slot of warm season for establishment. It establishes quickly, which suppresses summer weeds. Buckwheat plants grow quickly, beginning to produce seed in about 6 weeks and ripening at 10 to 11 weeks. They grow 30 to 50 inches (75 to 125 cm) tall. Currently, various reports substantiated that the buckwheat has played a significant role in diets worldwide, mainly in Asia and Eastern Europe. Its first starring role as a cultivated crop appears circa 4000 B.C. in the Balkan region of Europe, but its thought to have truly taken hold inland in Southeast Asia and from there spread to Central Asia, Tibet, the Middle East, and Europe. There are accounts that Japans Emperor Gensho ordered buckwheat cultivation throughout the entire country to prepare for dry weather in 722. In US, buckwheat first hitched a ride with European colonists and, since that time, can be found growing in just about every corner of the globe.
Buckwheat is a good source of essential nutrients, vitamins, energy, and fiber to humanity for approximately 8,000 years. It encloses higher levels of zinc, copper and manganese than other cereal crops; therefore bioavailability of these essential mineral nutrients is quite high. Having buckwheat in your diet can help you stay fit, nimble, and healthy. Further, it also provides high degree of protein (Crude protein 18 per cent), second highest after oat. Buckwheat is not only protein enriched while it also has lysine (an amino acid). Before you pin a gold star on buckwheat for its perfect test score, its important to note there is some evidence that the protein digestibility in humans can be somewhat low. While this makes it a less than ideal source of protein for growing children or anyone with digestive tract issues, its perfectly fine for the grown-ups of the world. Besides, humans are meant to have a varied, omnivorous diet, so its good to obtain protein from a variety of sources. Its starch contents contain 25 per cent, amylose and 75 per cent amylopectin. Buckwheat contains a glucoside called rutin, a phytochemical that strengthens capillary walls. One clinical study showed mixed results in the treatment of chronic venous insufficiency. Dried buckwheat leaves were manufactured in Europe under the brand name “Fagorutin” for use as a tisane. It also contains galloylated propelargonidins and procyanidins. High protein buckwheat flour is being studied for possible use as a functional ingredient in foods to reduce plasma cholesterol, body fat, and cholesterol gallstones.
Its seed are similar to seeds of sunflower with hard outer covering (hull). Inside part of sedd/ grain is white in color, can be employed as buckwheat flour. Buck wheat noodles have been used from long time by the people of Tibet and northern China as wheat cannot be grown in those mountain regions. Buckwheat noodles play a major role in the cuisines of Japan, Korea and the Valtellina region of Northern Italy. Soba noodles are the subject of deep cultural importance in Japan. In Korea, guksu (noodles) were widely made from buckwheat before it was replaced by wheat. The difficulty of making noodles from flour with no gluten has resulted in a traditional art developed around their manufacture by hand. Buckwheat groats (hulled or crushed grain) are commonly used in Western Asia and Eastern Europe. The porridge was common, and is often considered the definitive peasant dish. It is made from roasted groats that are cooked with broth to a texture similar to rice. Groats were the most widely used form of buckwheat worldwide during the 20th century, eaten primarily in Russia, Ukraine and Poland, called “grechka” in Russian. Buckwheat pancakes, sometimes raised with yeast, are eaten in several countries. Similar pancakes were a common food in American pioneer days. They are light and foamy. The buckwheat flour gives them an earthy, mildly mushroom-like taste. In Ukraine, yeast rolls called hrechanyky are made from buckwheat. Buckwheat flour is also used to make Nepali dishes like “dhedo” and “kachhyamba”.
Farina (flour) made from groats are used for breakfast food, porridge, and thickening materials in soups, gravies, and dressings. In Korea, buckwheat starch is used to make a jelly called memilmuk. It is also used with wheat, maize or rice in bread and pasta products. Buckwheat contains no gluten and can consequently be eaten by people with coeliac disease or gluten allergies. Many bread-like preparations have been developed. Buckwheat is a good honey plant, producing a dark, strong monofloral honey.
Buckwheat is a temperate crop require moist and cool environment. It can also be grown at far north and at high altitudes because its growing period is short and also require low temperature for early developmental stages.
Buckwheat can be grown on wide range of soil types and fertility levels. It has ability even to grow on less fertile and poorly drained soils than other grains. It is often better suited than most other grains on newly cleared land, on drained marsh land, or on other rough land with a high content of decaying vegetative matter. Buckwheat has higher tolerance to soil acidity than any other grain crop. It is best suited to light to medium textured, well-drained soils such as sandy loams, loams and silt loams. It does not grow well in heavy, wet soils or in soils that contain high levels of limestone. It grows well where alfalfa or red clover would not. On soils high in nitrogen, lodging may occur and cause a reduction in yield. Once lodged, a buckwheat plant does not return upright. Crusting on clay soils may result in an unsatisfactory stand because of poor seedling emergence.
Various researches indicated that buckwheat requires a temperature range of 45° to 105°F to germinate. Initially at harvesting, fresh seeds exhibited less germination however can be increased if stored for 30 to 60 days. The seed may retain its viability for several years, but seed that is no more than one year old is best to use for planting. Buckwheat plants will emerge from the soil 3-5 days after planting. The time required is influenced by depth of seeding and the temperature and moisture content of the soil.
Future research thrust
As bourgeoning population and uncertainty in ensuring food security put forth a great interest for scientists to introduce this crop under local conditions of Pakistan. It is dire need of time to introduce this new crop under our local conditions to increase yield and secure food security. An exact production technology is required for its successful cultivation. Dr. Hassan Munir and his team members are trying to give a suitable production technology package so that can be transferred to farmers field.
Published in: Volume 04 Issue 49
Short Link: http://www.technologytimes.pk/?p=10920