With the agro sector of Nigeria gradually shaping itself on course for a significant revolution, patronage of a particular agricultural produce popularly known as ‘tigernuts’ which is presently gaining grounds as a new money-spinner for agro entrepreneur in the country.
The highly consumed agricultural produce is identified with different names according to ethnicity and tribal languages in the country. For example, it is commonly known as Ofio in Igbo language, Omu in Yoruba, while Hausa people know it as Aya. Thus, it happens to be one crop with high nutritional value which also provides the advantage of bringing income in terms of foreign exchange to the nation.
Tigernuts which grows as grass is botanically called ‘Cyperus Esculentus’ belongs to the classification of tuber crops. Researchers have also come to discover how important the crop is to health of humanity, as the crop could also be a vital raw material for the Nigeria’s cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries.
Experts in the health disciplines, tigernuts can function as an anti-oxidant, due to its high content of vitamin E ; allergen and gluten-free. This makes it very good for the body system of celiac patients; has high amount of resistant starch, which is a valuable prebiotic; controls diabetes. It also contains insoluble fibers that aid the stability of the blood sugar level; repair tissues and bones and lower bad cholesterol.
Findings show that one serving of tigernut (one ounce or 30 grams) contains about 120 calories, 19 grams carbohydrates, two grams protein; seven grams fat, grams fiber, 1.8 milligrams iron, 28 milligrams magnesium, 1.1 milligrams zinc, 215 milligrams potassium, and one milligrams vitamin B6.
According to an agriculturist, Yahaya Aminu who plies his trade in Kano, the crop can be eaten raw or roasted, and it can also be used as an beverage ingredient for refreshment purposes such as smoothies– which is highly sought after due to its high nutritional value to both the old and young consumers. .
“Majority of people are getting to know about the energy side of tigernuts, and the health benefits. This development has increased sales and cultivation because many farmers are seeing the hidden potentials of cultivating the commodity.”
Meanwhile, it is important to note that recently carried out researches have confirmed that the crop can be used in the production of biofuel, which was proposed to be a source of energy to that would be safe to use in the environment.
Said Aminu: “Tigernut is a an wholesome stuff. It is efficient in changing the economic fortune of rural farmers with the help of proper guidance.
“Based on its potentials, our appeal to government is to tap into this crop, to encourage its commercial cultivation, in order to boost the economy, as part of efforts to diversify the economy. It is also capable of creating more jobs and encourage those already cultivating the crop.”