Looking inwards against COVID-19
Sir: When one of the federal agencies, weeks ago, announced that a tuber of cocoyam is effective in combating the coronavirus, many were shocked because no one expected that old, long, abandoned and uncommon root crop could have immune-boosting nutrients that make it protect the body. Nobody pays attention to those extra nutritional values that cocoyam provides when compared with other tuber and root crops until it was made known by the agency.
Cocoyam has minerals and materials that are very good for the body and can reduce instances of disease.
According to research, cocoyam is good for controlling high blood pressure and it also protects the heart due to its richness in Vitamin B6. The Federal Government agency, under the supervision of the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry, revealed that cocoyam is rich in nutrients that can combat infections of COVID-19.
The Director-General of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC), Prof. Hussaini Ibrahim, hinted that cocoyam has high nutritional values. According to Hussaini, cocoyam is rich in nutrients like digestible starch, quality protein, varieties of essential vitamins and amino acids. The RMRDC boss stated clearly that cocoyam has long been neglected as a tuber crop, yet it has more nutritional benefits than cassava and yam.
In his explanation on how cocoyam can be used to fight COVID-19 infections, Hussaini said: “Some of the issues of those who fall to COVID-19 are those with diabetes, high blood pressure and some other opportunistic diseases that attack the immune system and when such people are exposed to COVID-19, they easily fall victims. So, what we are saying is that if you can take care of diabetes, then your immune system will be much higher. If you consume cocoyam, your body tends to have a higher immune level that can combat the incidents of COVID-19, so cocoyam is very important because you will not fall easily to COVID-19, which is why we say it is a crop of choice to those who have the illness that can be attractive to COVID-19.”
The RMRDC DG further added that “Cocoyam is a veritable raw material with a lot of nutrients…has what we call low glycemic index.” “Sugar is converted to glycogen, which can be stored in the body so that when you have emergencies, glycogen will be pumped into the system and the body will process it. Consuming cocoyam will help because it has two carbohydrates, one fibre and the other we call resistant carbohydrate or starch,” he further said.
The RMRDC chief also advised that those whose bodies are not functioning to full capacity in terms of the production of insulin should consume cocoyam.
It is, therefore, important that the government at all levels invests massively in research activities and local innovations for the rapid growth of our economy. To go far as a country, we must look inwards for solutions to those challenges facing us.
Kayode Ojewale is of the Public Affairs and Enlightenment Department of LASTMA.