Nelly Bassily | July 19, 2010
This story presents an example of innovative agricultural processing. As the entrepreneur in the story demonstrates, processing foods can increase income not only for the processor, but also for the farmers who can sell more of their crops. Often, it means that perishable foods such as fruits and vegetables are preserved and do not have to be eaten immediately. Or, as in this case, a by-product is given a use and value.
Pumpkins, squashes, gourds, melons and cucumbers all belong to the Cucurbitaceae family. There are many edible species in this family, and they often have names which are local to an area. According to Josephine Bouanga, four species are commonly grown in the Republic of the Congo: squash or pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata and Cucurbita pepo), watermelon (Citrullus lanatus), and bottle gourd, Lagenaria siceraria.
Most parts of a squash plant can be eaten, including the flowers. In some parts of the world, roasted pumpkin seeds are commonly eaten as a snack.
Wikipedia has a short entry on squashes here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squash_%28plant%29.
If you are interested in further information on the nutritional benefits of pumpkin seeds, you may visit this site:
The World’s Healthiest Foods’ article on pumpkin seeds:
Here is a previous Farm Radio Weekly story on pumpkin:
Pumpkin co-op offers growing tips (August 3rd, 2009, Issue #76)
There are many Farm Radio International Scripts on food processing and storage at: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/food.asp.
Two scripts which cover squash in particular:
–Farmers in Eastern Nigeria Grow the Fluted Pumpkin Package 71, Script 1
–The Three Sisters: Maize, Beans and Squash Package 58, Script 6 January 2001.
You may wish to search for farmers and other entrepreneurs in your community who have found innovative ways to process and market local foods:
-What sort of market research did the entrepreneurs conduct to ensure that consumers, distributors, or retailers would be interested in purchasing their new products?
-Were the entrepreneurs supported by local organizations such as farmers’ cooperatives or micro-credit institutions?
-How have farmers adapted to increased demand for the locally produced food?
-Have local consumers received any particular benefits from these activities (such as improved access to nutritious foods)?