This is a review on indigenous fermented foods outlining their traditional status, improvement made towards developing them to the status of modern processed foods as well as the problems and constraints militating against them despite such improvements. The problem inherent in the technology of the traditional family and /or ethnic method of fermenting local staples. These were found to result from the following limitations associated with dierent aspect of indigenous fermentation processes, thus a production environment, lack of knowledge of the culture of the processes, absence of any control in the processing variables like PH, temperature etc, lack of awareness of the nutrition and /or toxicological implications of fermentation and its products. As a result of improvements made in the areas of production environment, process control and microbiological quality of the product yield a reduction in the duration of fermentation and emergence of products that are free of health -risks, consistent quality capable of mass production through the use of mechanized equipment and sterile packages. The problems of indigenous fermented foods includes, poverty, illiteracy, government attitude and preference for imported foods.



Chemical Changes brought about by enzymes from living microorganisms constitute fermentation. It has been established that there are nutrient rich cross in Nigeria which are fermented and used as food or food condiments (Odunfa and Oyeyiola),1985, (Uzogara), 1990. Fermentation leads to general improvements in the self life, texture, taste, aroma as well as nutritional value (Uzo gara), 1990. The indigenous fermented foods constitute a group of foods that are produced in homes, villages, ad small cottage industries. They are sold to the rural populace who buy them for food and social ceremonies. The fermented foods are derived from substrates like roots, Legumes, Cereals, oil seeds, nuts milk, palm tree sap etc. (Oguntunde), 1989, (Akobundu and Iwuoha), 1992. Generally, these crops are not used as foods in their unfermented State because some of them are toxic or contain anti-nutritional factors.

In the distant past there was no verified date on the economic, nutritional, technical and quality control implications of the indigenous fermented foods. Only recently have food technologist, human nutritionist, Microbiologists and other applied scientists carried out multifaceted studies on indigenous fermented foods so that further development could be achieved. These led to application of biotechnology processes in selected indigenous fermented foods but it is strange that the commercial biotechnology sectors has shown limited interest in applying modern biotechnology to the problems of security and poverty in developing countries. The commercial firm would find it hard to recoup their investments (Gabrille, 1999). Despite these advances on indigenous fermented foods, there are a lot of constraints / problems militating against them (indigenous fermented foods) which has hindered the implementation of such findings. Fermentation has been used for several thousands of years as an eective and low cost means to preserve the quality and safety of foods. (Camp bell –Plat,1996) Stated that fermentation is the oldest known of food biotechnology. Food fermentation involves mixed culture of microorganisms that grows simultaneous or in succession. According to Stainkerus (1995) the traditional fermented foods contain high nutritive value. Food fermentation is important in developing countries where lack of resources limits the use of technique such as vitamins enrichment of foods and the use of energy and intensive process for food preservation. Some important indigenous fermented foods in Igbo Etiti Local Government Area are cereals:- (burukuku, kunu and pap), Legumes:- (Ugba or dawada, ogiri isi), Tubers:– (Abacha, Fufu or Utara akpu, gari, Ekwurikwu, cassava flour), Tree Sap:-(Palm wine). In Igbo Etiti Local Government area, women carry out fermented processing activities mostly. The production is Cra-based despite the dawn of science and technology .

The techniques they use are labour intensive time consuming and have low productivity, with success depending upon observation of good manufacturing practice. According to IDRC (2003) vitamin A, Iron and deficiency resulting from poor processing by rural or local farmers is widely prevalent particularly in the developing world. The world health organization (WHO) estimate that as many as 228 million children are affected by vitamin A. The report further show that iodine deficiency (IDD) even when mild reduces intelligence quotient by 10-15 points. The WHO reports identified iron deficiency as the most common nutritional disorder in the world and over one billion people, particularly women of reproductive age and pre-school children and working men. If not controlled, it leads to anemia, reduced work capacity, diminished learning ability and increased susceptibility to learning ability and increased susceptibility to infection and great risk of death associated with pregnancy and child birth. All these added to low wages and increasing poverty, high price of foods of animal origin accompanied with increasing population presents a frightening scenario in developing world. The need to achieve food security for the growing population calls for the adaptation of improved method of food fermentation. Food security remains on unfulfilled dream from more than 800 million people unable to leave healthy and active lives because they lack access to safe and nutrious food Klaus, (1999). The fight to achieve food security for the growing population has to take place one many fronts. Technology is one of such front and genetic engineering and biotechnology are interdependent options within that front. Biotechnology clearly can solve agricultural problem that traditional technology and others can not solve or can solve in a more costly manner (Klaus, 1999). Recent development in genetics enzymology, recombination technology and fermentation technology have led to advances in technology far beyond the original traditional and scope (BOSTID, 1992).


Indigenous fermented foods are produced at the household level in a majority of African countries. Increasing industrialization and urbanization trends in these countries will however dictate the needs for large scale production of fermented foods of consistent quality to meet the demands of the sophisticated and varied palates of industrialized communities will eventually be required. Upgrading the production of fermented foods from the household to the industrial level will necessitate several critical Steps:

Isolation and identification of the micro organism associated with the fermentation. The micro organism. associated with fermentation need to be isolated, property identified and preserved preferably in a recognized culture collection for future use. 2. Determination of the roles of the microorganisms :- The biochemical roles of the microorganisms associated with food fermentation needs to be determined through chemical analysis of products released by the micro organism under controlled laboratory conditions. 3. Selection and genetic improvement of micro organisms.:-

Microorganisms responsible for affecting important changes in the food during fermentation should be selected subjected to genetic improvement geared towards maximizing desirably quality attributes in the food and limit any undesirable attributes. 4. Improvement in process controls for the manufacture of fermented foods:- Improvement in the quality of fermented foods may be achieved by manipulating environmental factors such as temperature, moisture content, aereation, PH, acidity etc and activity of micro organisms during the fermentation process. 5. Improvement in the quality of raw materials used in the production of fermented foods.:- Both the quality and quantity of fermented foods may be improved by choosing raw materials other than those traditionally used for their production. 6. Laboratory Simulation of the fermented foods.:- Prior to pilot scale production and (Ideally) after all the five stages above have been studied, fermented products, may be produced under laboratory conditions:- . Laboratory simulation of fermented foods will involve the production of fermented food by inoculating microbial isolate having desirable properties into raw materials. 7. Pilot Stage production.; The pilot stage production is the first departure from small scale production and should be based on the result of laboratory experiment. 8. Production or industrial plant stage:- The production stage is the combination of all the efforts and should lead to the availability of foods of predictable and consistent quality or a large scale.


1. What is the scientific / technological improvements made so far on indigenous fermented foods in Igbo Etiti Local Government area. 2. How did the improvements contribute to the qualities of the fermented foods.? 3. What are the advances introduced in the process / production of the indigenous fermented foods.? 4. Did the improvement have any impact in the substance of food and beverage industries? 5. What are the problems associated with the improvements on the traditional methods? 6. What are the constraints of the indigenous fermented foods.?