Retention of pro-vitamin a content in products from new biofortified cassava varieties
Plant breeding efforts in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have produced biofortified cassava with high carotenoid content to address vitamin A deficiencies (VAD). Since carotenoids in foods are easily depleted during processing, the retention of β-carotene in some newly released cassava varieties is under query. From four of these new varieties, two commonly consumed products (gari and its dough) were processed according to standard methods. Retention of β-carotene was then probed after applying fermentation periods of a day and three days. The possible contribution of the products to Vitamin A intake in children, adolescents, and women was also assessed. The concentration of β-carotene in fresh Cassava roots ranged from 5.32 to 7.81 µg/g. The percentage retention ranged from 14.4 to 29.3% and 10 to 21.7% in gari fermented for one and three days respectively. The impact of varietal difference and length of fermentation was significant on retention in the intermediate and final products (p < 0.001). When compared with dietary intake data, cooking biofortified gari into its dough reduced Vitamin A intake in most varieties. We conclude that processing Cassava into gari (especially its dough) could hinder the retention of β-carotene however some varieties have retention advantage over others irrespective of the initial concentration in their fresh roots.