Ofada: Losing taste, aroma to integrated millers
Ofada Rice is low yielding local rice specie with a distinct taste and aroma, commonly cultivated in the Southwest. The brown rice has carved a niche for itself, as a local delicacy. It has been elevated to a thing of status and cultural pride, especially given the nature of its preparation and the unique sauce that is used in serving it.
The Guardian learnt that the specie has a number of cereal antioxidants that are reputed to be anti-cancer agents like selenium, vitamin E, phytic acid, phenolic acids, and tocotrieonols.
Several health reports on Ofada rice have presented it as having the power to protect from atherosclerosis, stroke, diabetes, while weight watchers believe in its healthier calorie content.
It is reputed to have twice as much phosphorus and manganese as polished white rice. It has significant amount of dietary fibre necessary for good bowel movement, also contains phytochemicals that reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and compounds that lower bad cholesterol in the body system.
Despite the fact that other varieties are replacing Ofada rice as a staple crop, its demand is still increasing. However, different mixtures of the rice specie have found their way into the market.
From The Guardian’s survey, some of the Ofada rice in the market lacks the special aroma and taste associated with the popular brand. One of the popular types in the market, though brownish like the normal one, but lacks the aroma when cooked and the taste is different. Unlike this original type, the others look polished, but lack the taste and aroma.
This has raised suspicion about adulteration of Ofada in the market. But from The Guardian investigation, the new type in circulation was achieved as a result of packaging to give it clean grains, to make it attractive.
The changes occur from the processing side of the value chain, where more efficient equipment, including de-stoning facilities have been put in place, to improve the packaging and marketing.
The Managing Director, Elephant Group Plc, Dr. Tunji Owoeye who told The Guardian that since production processes have been mechanised, with the use of Integrated Milling Machines, Nigeria now produces rice that competes with imports, that is why local rice is losing the original Ofada taste.
“Because we are trying to compete with imported rice, everyone now has parboilers and things that will not make it look like Ofada, except you buy in the local cottage mills, most integrated millers don’t deal in Ofada. Change of the taste or aroma depends on what the buyer is trying to achieve.
“The truth of the matter is that the taste of Ofada is different from the taste of rice that comes from an integrated mill. What makes an Ofada different is the process of parboiling; they don’t do much of integrated parboiling. What they do is local parboiling, that’s what retains the qualities, but now with integrated parboiling an automated machine does the parboiling, the taste wont be the same again,” he said.
“So, if its milled in a locally fabricated machine, you can still get the Ofada taste, but you wont get the taste from rice milled in integrated machines, but you’ll get other things. The other advantage of integrated milling is that there is de-stoning machine that removes stones and other foreign objects common in Ofada. It’s a give and take, you wont get the parboiled taste that Ofada is giving but the shell would have been totally removed.”
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