Okra Utilisation in Ghana and Pectin Extract at Different Maturity of Okra Fruit

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MAY, 2017
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Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) is a staple vegetable in Ghana but underutilized. The mucilage or pectin content is currently of interest for various food and non-food uses. In this thesis, a survey was conducted by administering questionnaires (at least 200) in each major producing areas/regions including Northern, Upper East, Eastern, Central, Western, Brong Ahafo, Ashanti, Volta and Greater Accra. In all a total 1560 questionnaires were administered randomly to both male and females including mostly farmers and marketers. The study was conducted between June and November 2016. The statistics showed that okra is well known (96.9%) across the country among the various ethnic groups. There are varietal differences among okra in Ghana. However, these varieties are not scientifically classified leading to different names for the various varieties across the different ethnic groups. The fruit is available all year round but abundant only in the rainy season between July to September. The results indicate that 94.7%, 22.1% and 9.6% of the respondents use okra as food, medicine and other applications, respectively. Okra is widely used as food in the form of soup (73.1%) and stew (68.7%) consumed popularly with banku (81.3%) and TZ (38.8%). Okra also had other applications in traditional medicine, pito clarification and firewood. However, a greater number of the respondents (65.2%) showed interest in new products being developed from okra. Differences in educational level, occupation and ethnic group had a significant influence on the utilization of okra in Ghana. In the medicinal utilization of okra, it was greatly used especially in the rural areas of northern Ghana for the treatment of diarrhea, boils, sores, shingles (‘ananse’), fractures and dislocations. Pectin was extracted from the Balabi okra genotype at different maturity using 0.1 M phosphate buffer at pH 6.0. The crude pectin yield obtained (11-20%) was significantly influenced by the maturity of the fruit/pod. The pectin content increased from early maturity to middle age and then decreased at late maturity when the pod texture is very hard. For Balabi okra fruit pods harvested 14-15 days after flowering produced the highest pectin yield implying the suitable maturity for harvesting the Balabi genotype if high pectin content/yield is desired.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Food Science and Technology, College of Science, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Food Quality Management,