Did you know that groundnut cake can be turned into a fibre that resembles wool? Or that palm oil was used to make steel? And are you familiar with the Ongokea gore, a tree whose oil prevents frost from building up on airplane wings? Aside from such fascinating nuggets of information, this new volume from the Plant Resources of Tropical Africa (PROTA) series offers a detailed description of 65 tropical vegetable oil-producing plants. Among them is the famous Jatropha, whose potential for biofuel production is stimulating a great deal of interest given the current rise in oil prices.

Although it bears the number 14, this volume is the fourth in the series, after cereals and pulses, vegetables, and dyes and tannins. For each plant, the book gives details of the origin, geographic distribution and various uses - many of them highly unusual - as well as economic, botanical and agronomic information, all completed with bibliographical references.

In 2003, the PROTA foundation, supported by CTA, undertook to compile information on some 7,000 useful plants in tropical Africa. In September 2007, a workshop held in Nairobi, Kenya, judged the results so far to be satisfactory. The event highlighted calls for greater African participation in the programme. A recent user survey showed that the information is used for teaching, extension and research purposes.

As part of six PROTA projects launched in 2006, producers have rediscovered traditional vegetables and started growing them. As one reader from Ghana puts it, "we appreciate minor vegetables which in the past we had not even known to be vegetables".

Vegetable oils
Edited by H A M van der Vossen & G S Mkamilo
PROTA/Backhuys Publishers/CTA, 2007. 261 pp.
ISBN 90-5782-191-2 (book only)
CTA number 1396
40 credit points
ISBN 90-5782-192-9 (book + CD-ROM)
CTA number 1397
60 credit points

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