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Projects and activities | 14 June 2019

VITAPALM - Improving nutritional quality and stability of palm oil produced by African smallholders to fulfil African consumers' needs

The VITAPALM project is targeted at laying the foundations for breeding new varieties of African Oil Palm (Elaeis guineensis) that produce non-refined crude oil with improved nutritional qualities (lower saturated fat, higher levels of vitamins) and increased stability (low lipase content). For this purpose, we will take advantage of natural variability within oil palm elite genitors to select appropriate trees, and we will also include wild palm trees. We will screen oil palm fruits for total fatty acid composition, free fatty acid content, vitamin E (tocopherol/tocotrienol) and provitamin A (carotenoid) contents. In addition, we will carry out genetic analyses to identify molecular markers for future marker-assisted selection. At last, we will perform an in depth study on the flexibility brought by low-lipase lines to define new harvesting practices compatible with those of smallholders, and leading to oil with lower free fatty acid levels. We expect that more stable crude oil with high levels of vitamins will prove an important asset to reduce vitamin A deficiency in Africa. Also, consumers will pay a premium for improved crude palm oil, leading to increased income for African smallholders.

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