SU Ag Center’s Kit Chin publishes scientific research in international magazine

SU Ag Center’s Kit Chin publishes scientific research in international magazine
Photo provided by Southern University Media Relations

POSTED: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 7:00am

UPDATED: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 7:04am

Kit Chin, professor, horticulture at SU Ag Center has been published in an international magazine - International Innovation.

His research article on the health implication of hibiscus is on page 50-52 of the August 2013 issue of the magazine.

Dr. Chin is an avid researcher who aims to assess the viability of the roselle plant as a crop for farmers in Louisiana. In the article, Chin discusses the importance of collaboration and the significance of his work with Roselle hibiscus, which has a number of positive attributes making it an ideal candidate for a functional food crop among small farmers for obvious reasons. “It is easy to grow; it has demonstrated medicinal properties (a niche factor for marketing) and can fetch high market price; there is no fresh roselle hibiscus produce (calyces and leaves) currently available in the US; it is versatile for a number of uses; and has a worldwide demand,” said Chin. Click here for a PDF version of the article.

In discussing the healing power of hibiscus, Chin says his inspiration for the research arose from an increased demand for natural foods to mitigate human chronic diseases such as cancer. He added that some shortcomings of growing hibiscus include precision in harvesting time, and great manpower demand in harvesting and peeling the calyces to prevent mildew disease during storage. However, he plans to overcome harvesting and handling challenges by continuous variety selection process to ensure the best adaptable cultivars that will help his research. His method of improving awareness of the Roselle hibiscus to the public includes utilizing the Southern University Ag Center website, social media, national TV broadcast, the Louisiana Farm Bureau (This Week in Louisiana Agriculture) TV program, field days, and the annual SU Legislative Day at the Capitol.

Dr. Chin states that in the long run, the wider importance of his research will impact small farmers as well as the state’s economy. He sees potential in Louisiana small farmers adopting Roselle hibiscus as a functional food crop; emergence of hibiscus-related products industry expanding to include other plants for producing wines and beverages; and growing into other value-added products. “The research can help to promote market enterprises for small, limited-resource farms and develop new product industry in Louisiana. I can also foresee roselle hibiscus playing a significant role in the nutritional supplement market,” Chin said.

The research project is multidisciplinary and multi-institutional in nature, utilizing the various expertise of the collaborators to effectively and efficiently achieve common research goals with minimum expenses. This approach also helps to build SU Ag Center’s research capability credentials. Primary partners in this USDA/NIFA funded initiative include Rutgers University, West Virginia State University, and USDA Agricultural Research Service. The SU Ag Center project team consists of Drs. Yadong Qi, Sebhatu Gebrelul, Renita Marshall, Fatemeh Malekian and Adell Brown. The project was funded in 2009 by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

In the publication, Dr. Chin also responses to the question concerning his opinion on the effect of climate change on his research. He anticipated that plants will adapt in the long run to climate changes and probably result in evolving of new genetic plant species.

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