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In our world today, the geometric increase of the population has raised alarming concerns on the food security to sustain the teeming population (Sridhar, 2007). The worse hit is developing countries in Africa, especially Nigeria that still lacks the capacity to manage food production tasks arising from the current global warming and other environmental changes. The few food products usually lack adequate proteins, essential fatty acids and vitamins leading to the common form of malnutrition in individuals.
Interestingly, unconventional legumes are promising in terms of nutrition, provisions of food security, agricultural development and in crop rotation in developing countries (Sridhar, 2007). The wild legume varieties have different quantities of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, lipid/fatty acids and minerals.
Mucuna pruriens var.utilis is a tropical legume of the family Fabaceae and genus Mucuna. Some of its common names are Agbara (Igbo), Yerepe (Yoruba), Mauritius bean, cow itch, cow hage, Jackbohne (German). Velvet bean is an annual perennial, herbaceous, vigorous climbing vine that growso 3-18cm in height. It is indigenous of the tropical regions especially Africa, India and the West Indies. Its pods are sigmoid, turgid, longitudinally ribbed and always clustered on the stem and the pods are covered with reddish-orange hairs that dislodge readily causing intense irritation on the skin. The pods contain seeds that are black or white (Siddhuraju, 2000; Leslie, 2005; Sridhar, 2007).
The oil contents of Mucuna seed may be edible and consist of different fatty acid which is a characteristic identify of most oil seeds. The chemical composition of an oil extract gives a qualitative identification of such oil in selection of areas while it can be applied or utilized despite differences in processing and extraction of the oil (Ofoegbu, - 2006).
The aim of this work thus is to extract the oil from the white seeds of Mucuna pruriens var. utilis, characterize it and determine the applicability, based on the quantities, in industries such beverage, pharmaceutical and/or soap manufacturing.
1.2 OBJECTIVE OF STUDY
This work was inspired by the need to find alternative sources of good oils for human utilization in industries.
1.3 SCOPE OF WORK
This work is intended:
(1) To determine the percentage of oil content of white seeds of Mucuna pruriens var.utilis
(2) To determine the moisture contents of the seeds used
(3) To characterize, by obtaining the physio-chemical properties of the oil
(4) To suggest possible industry the oil can be utilized based on the results and the information provided in literature on oils.
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