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THE BENEFIT OF BITTER LEAF AMONG THE RURAL DWELLER IN AKWA IBOM STATE

THE BENEFIT OF BITTER LEAF AMONG THE RURAL DWELLER IN AKWA IBOM STATE

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 Abstract

Bitter leaf is a shrub or small tree that grows throughout tropical Africa, in Akwa Ibom State, the leaf is called etidod. It is a very important protective food and useful for the maintenance of health and treatment of various diseases. The main purpose of this study was to examine the benefits of bitter leaf among the rural dweller in Akwa Ibom State.

Leafs of the bitter leaf plant that were used in this study were obtained from the rural area of Akwa Ibom. Plants from which the leaves were obtained for the study were between the ages of 3 months to 5 months. All the data that were obtained were analyzed by Microsoft Office 2007 Excel software.

Information was presented in both tabular and graphical form. In the analysis also, the processes for each of the analysis were done in duplicates and the averages recorded. This was to help reduce the level of error to the barest minimum. 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION 

1.1       Background to the Study

Bitter leaf is the most widely cultivated species of the genus Vernonia which has about 1,000 species of shrubs (Muanya, 2013). It belongs to the family Astaraceae. It is vegetatively cultivated by stem cutting at an angle of 450C and popular in most of West Africa countries including Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon and Congo Democratic Republic. It was named after an English Botanist William Vernon. It is also referred to as ironweed. Bitter leaf is frequently found in gardens (Schiffers, 2000).

It can adapt to a variety of climates unlike other plants that are native to certain areas. It is grown in many countries, in savannah zones and cultivated fields (Ibrahim et al., 2010). Although most popularly used for food, it has also, been traditionally used for its medicinal properties (Swee et al., 2010). True to its name, bitter leaf is bitter to taste but surprisingly delicious in meals (Abosi and Raseroka, 2003). Bitter leaf is called Omjunso in East Africa especially Tanzania, Onugbo in Igbo-Eastern Nigeria and Orugbo among the Itsekiri and Urhobo tribes in Nigeria, Ewuro (Yoruba), Etidot (Ibibio), Ityuna (Tiv), Oriwo (Edo), Chusa-doki Shiwaka (Hausa).

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It grows everywhere, a homely plant. During cultivation the stems of various length of V. amygdalina are cut in the afternoon, soothed and tied in bundles. The bundles are kept overnight, placed upright in a basin of water or covered with jute bag to avoid desiccation. They are now planted in the morning on loamy soil at a depth of 2-5cm deep. Botanically, bitter leaf is a shrub or small tree that grows in tropical Africa.

It attains the height of 2.5m with petiolate leaf of about 6mm in diameter that is elliptic in shape (Ijeh and Ejike, 2011). The branches are brittle and break off easily. It has grey or brown coloured bark; the bark has a rough texture and is flaked. The leaves are elliptical and up to 20cm long. The leaves are oblongate lance-like in shape, veined are bear, soft hairs on the underside.

The bark is green or brownish dark with rough surface. The leaves are green with characteristic odour and bitter taste. The flowers are white, small, tiny and clustered. The small fruits have slightly hairy small nuts inside. It can reach 23ft in height when fully grown (Mbinglo, 1998; Remison, 2005; Kokwaro, 2009; Muanya, 2013). It is a multipurpose plant that has a lot of potential valuable uses yet to be harnessed by the rural population of Nigeria.

Furthermore, bitter leaf is a shrub or small tree that grows throughout tropical Africa. It is popularly called bitter leaf because of its abundant bitter principles (Ekpo et al., 2007). The leaves contain a considerable amount of anti-nutritive factors like high level of tannic acid and saponin (Charles and Boulevard, 2012). The findings by Akwaowo et al., (2000) reported that the young leaves often preferred for human consumption, contain high cyanide (60.1mg 100-1g DM) and tannin content (40.6mg 100-1g DM) than older ones.

THE BENEFIT OF BITTER LEAF AMONG THE RURAL DWELLER IN AKWA IBOM STATE

Proximate composition of Vernonia amygdalina leaf meal (VALM) shows a chemical composition of 527.83 ME kcal/ kg, 86.40% DM, 21.50% CP, 13.10% CF, 6.80% EE, 11.05% Ash, and the result on mineral composition indicate that V. amygdalina has 3.85% Calcium, 0.40% Magnesium, 0.03% Phosphorus , 0.006% Iron, 0.33% Potassium and 0.05% Sodium (Owen, 2011).

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In addition, Vernonia amygdalina has also been fed to broilers, where it was able to replace 300g kg-1 of maize-based diet without negative effect on feed intake, body weight gain and feed efficiency (Bonsi et al., 1995).

With the numerous benefits of bitter leaf to mankind in both consumption purpose, nutritional and health benefits. It is against this background that a study as this has been conducted to highlight and bring to lime light the numerous benefits of bitter leaf among the rural dwellers in Akwa Ibom State.

1.2.  Statement of the Problem

Malnutrition/hunger as described by the United Nation is the single most related cause to most of the Millennium Development Goals. (UNDP, 2011). This has been attributed not only to lack of food but also to inadequate production of nutritious and hardy plants which can thrive well in weather.

Appropriate cooking and the correct combination of foods is a very important factor that if considered and practiced well will help to reduce malnutrition and its related diseases.

Attributed to this plant is its ability to do well with little or no care making it one of the labour conserving plants that can be grown. (www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vernonia.)

Provision of a medicinal/nutritious plant for use as a meal and medicine is a giant step that takes care of about half of the conditions that promote good health as illustrated by many health models. This is due to the many nutritious benefits, medicinal effects which translate into better health and the fact that the growth of this plant that can grow into a tree is a step toward environmental rehabilitation.

Its handling and storage would affect large scale production and export for the consumption of many. Therefore, this study aim to examine the benefits of bitter leaf among the rural dwellers in Akwa Ibom State.

1.3   Objectives of the Study

The main purpose of this study was to examine the benefits of bitter leaf among the rural dwellers in Akwa Ibom State.

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Specifically, the study aimed to:

  1. find the Economic benefits of Bitter Leaf among rural dwellers in Akwa Ibom State.
  2. investigate the nutritional Benefits of Bitter Leaf among rural dwellers
  3. investigate the medicinal Benefits of Bitter Leaf among rural dwellers
  4. To find out the mineral contents of bitter leafs

1.4       Significance of the Study

The study will be of importance in the following ways:-

  1. This research work will enlighten the rural dwellers of Akwa Ibom State on the various benefits of bitter leaf.
  2. The findings of this study will revealed the numerous economic importance bitter leaf.
  3. The results of this research will be useful to the nutrition and dietetics, extension departments, food and nutrition policy makers and all consumers of bitter leaves and it products.
  4. The study will serve as a reference point or material for other researchers who may like to carry out research on the similar topic.

1.5       Research Questions

  • find the Economic benefits of Bitter Leaf among rural dwellers in Akwa Ibom State.
  • investigate the nutritional Benefits of Bitter Leaf among rural dwellers
  • investigate the medicinal Benefits of Bitter Leaf among rural dwellers
  • To find out the mineral contents of bitter leafs .

1.6       Limitation of the Study

Some of the challenges encountered while conducting the research include lack of sufficient funds and short duration assigned for the study.

1.7     Scope and Delimitation of the Study

       For the purpose of effective research work, this study was delimited to the benefits of bitter leaf among rural dwellers in Akwa Ibom State. However, the study is delimited in scope to the selected rural dwellers of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.

1.8     Definitions of Terms

 Bitter Leaf: Delile. V. amygdalina is commonly called bitter leaf in English because of its bitter taste.

Rural: In general, a rural area or a countryside is a geographic area that is located outside towns and cities. Typical rural areas have a low population density and small settlements.

Rural Dwellers: People living in the rural area.

Mr. Harrison

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