Morama: a lost crop from Africa
- Tommaso De Santis
- Annequin Mathilde
- Marie Kovacs
- Guillaume Tueux
- Wendy Luong
As a region, southern Africa has historically been at high risk of droughts. At the moment the entire region is facing a long and devastating drought which started in Fall 2018 when El Niño disrupted southern Africa's annual rainfall. The UN noted that 9.6 million people in southern Africa were severely food-insecure as of the start of the 2019 lean season. Local government is responding to the emergency by promoting the cultivation of foreign pulses non-adapted to the local semi-arid environments. This answer to the problem will likely make these countries even more vulnerable to Climate Change.
Our mission is to domesticate and commercialize wild plant products on a sustainable basis while benefiting local communities in southern Africa. In particular, we are focusing on the morama beans, an endemic legume that thrives in the Kalahari desert and has been used for centuries by the San people. Morama is a superfood that grows in poor sandy soil and can withstand long droughts and temperatures up to 50 °C. Despite the harsh conditions of its habitat, these beans are of high nutritional value. Its protein content range between 30 to 39% while its lipid content reaches 40% which is comparable to peanuts and soybeans respectively. Promoting underutilised "super fruits" reduces food insecurity and protects the local biodiversity.