Locally grown buckwheat grain for production of high-quality food products (L4-9305)

Buckwheat is a nutritious food and therefore through the project, we want to increase buckwheat consumption among Slovene population, which would also contribute to improving public health. Hopefully increased consumption will be followed by a greater supply of buckwheat products on the market and wider cultivation of buckwheat in Slovenia. With the acquired knowledge through the project we will support farmers and the food industry in the efficient cultivation and use of common buckwheat and Tartary buckwheat in the production of high-quality food products. The project’s »Locally grown buckwheat grain for production of high-quality food products« objectives are in line with the Slovenian strategic resolution on the development of Slovenian agriculture and the food industry until 2020 “Food for the future”. Project is led by Nutrition Institute in cooperation with “Jožef Stefan” Institute, National Institute of Chemistry, University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty. Project is co-financed by Slovenian research agency and Ministry of Agriculture, forestry and food in Slovenia.

Participating organisations:

• Nutrition Institute (project leader)
• “Jožef Stefan” Institute
• National Institute of Chemistry
• University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty

Project co-financed by:

• Slovenian research agency (ARRS) [SICRIS]
• Ministry of Agriculture, forestry and food

Project duration

• 1.7.2018 - 30.6. 2021

Project leader

• prof. dr. Ivan Kreft

Description of the project:

Two types of buckwheat are used globally for food consumption: common buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum Moench) and Tartary buckwheat (Fagopyrum tataricum (L.) Gaertner), that originates from China. Slovenia has a high potential to extend the cultivation of Tartary buckwheat in order to diversify crops, to use marginal agricultural area. Tartary buckwheat may be used for sowing as a second crop in the year after harvesting wheat or barley. Buckwheat groats and flour have been established as a nutritious food because of its high level of proteins as well as other substances such as rutin, quercetin, and minerals, such as selenium. A number of preparations and food products in global and Slovene market contain Tartary buckwheat or its isolated rutin as one of their active / therapeutic components. Examples of such products are: pharmaceutical preparations containing rutin, gluten-free Tartary buckwheat food products, and a Tartary buckwheat tea.

There are numerous reports of potential health benefits of consuming buckwheat, which may be in a form of food, dietary supplements, home remedies or possibly pharmaceutical drugs.

There are known potential health related effects of buckwheat products. This topic is important in a view of recently increased public interest in buckwheat, especially Tartary buckwheat. Recently, buckwheat herb was suggested as a functional food.
In last decade many scientific articles showed interest in Tartary buckwheat, however at present many questions remains open, especially those about the presence of bioactive ingredients in different plant parts or grain tissue.
Assessment of separation techniques to obtain buckwheat grain milling fractions with different concentrations of key metabolites (rutin, quercetin, (epi)catechin), as a starting material for functional food products. We will also asses the sustainability aspect with possible use of remaining material after harvest (stem and leaves materials) for the effective extraction of rutin, quercetin, catechin, epicatechin, emodine, resveratrol, and fagopyrin.
Research of sustainability: identification of suitable cultivation methods (different time of sowing and harvest) in order to improve the harvest quality and quantity of Tartary buckwheat samples in different cultivation systems. Stability or transformation of flavonoids during temperature and hydrothermal treatment. Special attention to mineral elements (major, minor and trace elements) present and metabolites of the phenilpropanoid path, as precursors of quercetin and rutin, and emodin and fagopyrins in anthraquinones group of metabolites. Latest state-of-the-art techniques will be used not only to measure levels of these constituents, but particularly to identify in which part of the plant those are being accumulated. 

Project objectives

The main aims of the are: optimisation of buckwheat agronomic techniques and separation to obtain buckwheat grain milling fractions of improved quality; To analyse secondary metabolites in order to obtain higher quality of buckwheat flours; to raising awareness of the quality of buckwheat products and recommendations to different stakeholders.

Among main objectives of the projects are testing the feasibility of cultivation of experimental lines of Tartary buckwheat in different altitude conditions (300, 600, 800 and 1100 m) in Slovenia. Establishing yield and quality parameters (flavonoids) of grain of Tartary buckwheat lines grown in different altitude conditions. Finding among existing Tartary buckwheat lines the most promising one(s) to be submitted to official testing for obtaining registered plant varieties of Tartary buckwheat. Supporting farmers and the food industry for more efficient growing and use of Tartary buckwheat in production of high-quality food products. Investigate consumer's food preferences related with common and Tartary buckwheat and using this knowledge for more efficient promotion of locally grown buckwheat in the population. Informing policymakers with the evidence needed for future agricultural policy decisions. Project will also focus into effective dissemination of the results. The project’s dissemination plan has been designed in order to target the different stakeholders, also beyond the scientific community. The project’s evidence-based recommendations will be communicated to farmers and food industry. For example, we will prepare a technological manual on how to obtain high quality materials from buckwheat, and how to effectively use them in food production. General public will be also targeted, raising awareness of the benefits of consumption of Tartary buckwheat.

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Nutrition institute is engaged in research and education in the field of nutrition and advising the food industry in the formulation and labeling of foods. In the scope of the institute, research group Healthy Nutrition is established, which performs research on food and nutrition.