Sunflowers have huge potential for agricultural and food production. Up until now they have been almost exclusively cultivated for plant oil. Residual materials from the oil production such as proteins, seed husks, and secondary plant ingredients have remained unutilized.
Brazil offers excellent conditions for large-scale sunflower cultivation. Sunflowers could be cultivated here by farmers as an intermediate or rotation crop and would provide farmers with an additional source of income. This would increase crop diversity and hence improve soil fertility. In addition, planting on hitherto uncultivated land could protect the land against erosion.
SunflowerProtein is a joint German-Brazilian research project aimed at optimizing the cultivation and processing of sunflowers.
The Fraunhofer IVV is developing a novel, sustainable fractionation technology which enables full utilization of the residual fractions from sunflower seed processing. Husks and carbohydrates will be used for energy generation. Oil, proteins, and secondary plant materials will be recovered using gentle processing steps in order to produce ingredients suitable for foods. These can be used as value-adding ingredients. A no-waste strategy is being pursued for the processing.
To achieve this, German and Brazilian partners along the entire production are involved in the project. The 17 partners are involved in the following three main areas:
- Agriculture: Primary crop production
- Processing: Manufacture of food ingredients
- Market evaluation: Application of the products to demonstrate their commercial viability.
These three areas are being appraised by undertaking a socio-economic study of the entire value-creation chain.