By Seniorl Anzu
Papua New Guinea’s taro and aibika are high in Iron and Zinc compounds which are important for human health but such nutritional information is not available for the public, says Nelson Simbiken, a PhD student at the Australian National University in Canberra.
He says eating moderate amounts of foods like taro and aibika every week should maintain sufficient vitamins and anti-oxidants for a healthier body.
Papua New Guineans therefore need to know the status of their traditional staple crops, he argued.
He made the comments soon after Australian scientists announced a breakthrough in their quest to develop a rice variety to address iron and zinc deficiencies that affect millions of people in poor countries across Asia.
“Instead of buying genetically modified rice for Iron and Zinc requirements, PNG should
be looking into promoting its own crops for nutritional supplements,” says Mr
“There is a need to analyse, for example, 200g of macro- and micro-nutrients of these crops, and the nutritional status provided at market deports and supermarkets.”
He said it is about time nutritional information on various staple crops and vegetables is published and made readily available in the public domain, especially through supermarkets and even on websites.
“Whose responsibility is this?” he asked.
“There is a growing demand for urban agriculture, which requires substantial data on the demand and supply of urban consumer needs, as sedentary lifestyle is increasing in major towns of PNG.
“Whose responsibility is it to collate such data? Is the rural supply for urban markets sufficient? What are the gaps (deficiencies), including market access?”
Mr Simbiken said research into nutritional supplements and provision of nutritional information of PNG grown crops are seriously lacking. There are methods in cooking that preserve high vitamins in food. This information should be made available, he says.