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Value-added food products are fresh or marginally processed merchandise whose worth has been augmented through the adding of ingredients or procedures that brand them added attractive to the consumer. It is a production/marketing strategy driven by customer needs and perceptions. Adding value to agricultural production contributes to the economic and environmental sustainability of both farms and the community. Adding value implies a degree of innovation that makes a product more desirable to consumers in terms of longer shelf life, improved functionality, better color, texture, flavor and more convenience. Value-added products can open new markets, create recognition and appreciation for the farm, and extend the marketing season. Consumer demand for ready-to-eat or ready-to-use types of prepared foods and minimally processed fruits and vegetables such as fresh-cut or pre-cut produce and salad mixes have increased due to shifts in consumer lifestyles and purchasing patterns. Benefits of value addition to farmers may include new products, optimized shelf-life and higher margins, with flow-on benefits to customers of product novelty, improved convenience, sensory appeal and food safety. Value-added products that will be considered include sweetpotato, sweetpotato leaves in relation to other food products. We will also use the sweetpotato and sweetpoato leaves as a food ingredient.Since it is known that the demand for green vegetables continues to rise worldwide, and also that sweetpotato leaves contain high-quality nutrients necessary for human health and are consumed as leaf vegetables. We hypothesize that a successful selection and evaluation of sweetpotato varieties for edible leaf vegetable production will enhance the national competence of the UAPB's faculty and students in agricultural research, hasten the opening of the US market for the sweetpotato products, and lead to increased revenue for the farmers, especially the limited-resource farmers in the Lower Mississippi Delta. Specifically, we will select sweetpotato varieties that will produce high-quality, nutritious leaf vegetables through plant breeding research and use the project opportunity to expose UAPB students to the international agricultural collaborative research process. Thus our research is guided by the following objectives: (a) Evaluation of designated sweetpotato varieties/genotypes concerning other commercial leafy vegetables for vitamins, mineral, and physiological functions, (b) to determine the nutrient, and anti-nutrient, namely oxalate and tannins levels of raw, cooked and dried sweetpotato leaves as compared to commercial leafy vegetables, (c) Prepare the crude extracts of the leaves of the selected specialty crops and sweetpotatoes, including its by-products using different extraction methods and identify antimicrobial and/or antioxidant compounds. Also, investigate their Organoleptic quality evaluations, (d). transmission of the knowledge to farmers, researchers, and food corporations in the United States, particularly to the small scale and limited-resource farmers in the Southeast Arkansas region, and (e) find out the cost-benefit of the products.

Islam, Sh, .
University of Arkansas
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