Research Trends in Modern Food Fermentation Biotechnology and Ethiopian Indigenous Traditional Fermented Foods and Beverages Research Achievements: A Review
Keywords:Fermentation, Biotechnology, Traditional Fermented Foods, Beverages
Biotechnology is as old as human civilization and has been an integral part of the human life and is believed to originate more recently to its modern form from an indigenous knowledge of African traditional food and beverage fermentation practices. The application of modern biotechnology methods in the food and agricultural industry is expected to alleviate hunger today and help avoid mass starvation in the future. Nowadays, modern food biotechnology has been transforming our traditional way of food production and preparation far beyond the traditional scope. Currently, at global level, food biotechnological research has focused on; traditional process optimization (starter culture development, enzymology), food safety and quality, nutritional quality improvement and food preservation (improving shelf life). Special emphasis has also been given to the newly growing concept such as functional foods and probiotics. To this regard, the science has gone more beyond our expectation and exemplary achievements are described here. In this review, food biotechnological research on Ethiopian indigenous traditional fermented foods and beverages was assessed in view of this global achievement. Microbiological study on Ethiopian traditional fermented foods and beverages has focused more on Isolation, identification, characterization of fermentative microbes, attempts to develop starter culture, physicochemical, biochemical, nutritional composition change during fermentation, depicting general traditional processing and recently on probiotics. Most of the researches have been concentrated on some very commonly and widely known traditional fermented foods and beverages nearly around the central and southern part of the country. The research was also fragmented and not progressive for a given food and/or beverage. Biotechnological researches on Ethiopian traditional fermented foods and beverages have not gone far beyond some attempts on molecular characterization study of fermentative microorganisms. The reasons for this limitation could be linked to the fact that; biotechnological research is capital intensive, requires the use of sophisticated equipment, reagents, chemicals and needs sufficient trained man power in the field. Lack of funding, little attention from government policy and the endemicity of the traditional fermentation techniques may also have contributed for the less/no advancement of the techniques. In conclusion, to promote Ethiopian indigenous traditional fermented foods and beverages into commercialization/ industrialization, using currently advancing food fermentation biotechnology, we need to: realize the economic benefits of these indigenous traditional knowledge, develop our human, technical and institutional capability, go out to assess the cultural and geographical diversities of the country, broaden our research topics far beyond the current, and keep on continuous and progressive research.
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