Dr Benneth Maduka, a former Deputy Provost of Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri, says cocoyam, an endangered food in the South East, is highly nutritive and medicinal.
Maduka made the observation while delivering his inaugural lecture with the theme “A Modular Training Programme for Improved Cocoyam Production for Youths in Nigeria” at the college on Thursday.
The don, who had his first and doctorate degrees in Agric Education and Bio-Resources, said that cocoyam had high nutritive value as it contained calcium, potassium, sulphur and iron aside other nutrients.
He said cocoyam could be prepared into various food types like cocoyam chips and flour for bakery, adding that it could also be flaked, boiled, roasted and eaten with palm oil and could also serve as a thickener for food.
Maduka said that the leaves of cocoyam could be used as vegetable, preservative and medicine to treat snake bites.
He said that cocoyam, which used to be a preferred food in the South East of Nigeria, was going into extinction and called on youths to come to the rescue.
Maduka said the lecture had youths as its target audience and called on them to develop interest in the production of the crop as they could make a living from it and be self sufficient.
He called on governors in the South East to integrate cocoyam production enterprises into their skills acquisition programmes for youths.
Provost of the College, Dr (Mrs) Blessing Ijeoma, congratulated the inaugural lecturer for coming up with the research and being practical in his presentation.
She said that inaugural lecture, an avenue to contribute knowledge to the academic world, is new to polytechnics and colleges of education in Nigeria.
She said the college was among the few colleges of education that were delivering inaugural lecture in the country.
Ijeoma agreed with the lecturer that cocoyam was endangered, adding that the crop could be used effectively for the treatment of diabetics and arthritis as well as good for children and the elderly.
The provost urged youths of the state to take up the challenge and contribute in the mass production of the crop for economic well being of the state and Nigeria in general.
NAN reports that the highlight of the programme was the presentation of souvenir and a certificate of merit to the inaugural lecturer. (NAN)