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Abstract, Tropical and Subtropical Agroecosystems, 2003

Since 1996, Sasakawa Global 2000/Guinea has been collaborating with the National Departments of Extension and Research on promoting Mucuna pruriens as a cover crop for improving and maintaining good soil fertility. Efforts have also continued to promote Mucuna as human food and animal feed so farmers will be encouraged to continue growing it. These studies on Mucuna for human food have been carried out by the Department of Extension and Rural Development, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock.

We have previously reported that by the year 2000, 300 women were trained in the preparation of Mucuna recipes (ragout, tau, porridge and coffee) and that over 1,500 participants had consumed full meals of the Mucuna food preparations without showing any negative effects (Diallo et al., 2002). Since then, the number of women and girls trained in the preparation of Mucuna by the Agricultural Technical Schools and the number of people who have tasted the Mucuna foods have more than tripled (1,957 and 8,500 respectively). To date, no negative effects have been reported.

In the recipes tested thus far, the only method used for reducing L-Dopa to safe levels has been soaking the seeds for a minimum of 48 hours with a change of fresh water every 12 hours (in our efforts, the targeted L-Dopa concentration has been below 1%; it should be noted that the L-Dopa concentration of the food preparations is lower since Mucuna is only one ingredient of many). Recent experiments reported here have focused on developing techniques that are more labor- and cost-effective in aiding in the consumption of Mucuna. We have demonstrated two ways for reducing the level of L-Dopa in Mucuna beans: 1) cracking the seeds and soaking them in running water (from a faucet) for 36 hours and 2) putting Mucuna beans in a cloth bag and leaving them immersed in a flowing river for three days. Key words: L- Dopa, protein, amino acids, minerals.