Authors: Amy Atter, Ethel J. Blessie, Stephen Nketia, Seth K. Agyakwah and Queronica Q. Quartey
The Accra Food System Lab (FSL) in Ghana has been developing new nutritious food products from local underused ingredients. The 45 developed products were introduced to a group of stakeholders who gave valuable feedback to help develop the products further.
With the collaboration of other Food System Labs working on novel food products, stakeholders, and potential product up-takers, FSL Accra that is run by CSIR commenced processes towards development of some novel foods from indigenous and local underutilised fish and crop species. From the trial developmental studies, the products included:
- Cereal-based foods such as moringa base cereal mix, instant fruity cereal
- Legume based foods such as bambara beans in tomato sauce, koose (black-eyed peas) mix, tofu, soy pancake mixture with fruit added on to provide fibre and nutrients; soya noodles and spaghetti made with moringa to increase nutrient base of increasing spate of spaghetti based fast foods
- fish sausage, nuggets and bottled ready-to-use koobi (salt-preserved tilapia) to diverse value addition of fish products
- Turkey berry soup base powder, ready-to-use frozen vegetables (garden eggs, okro, and green leafy ademe (jute) and spinach) to decrease labour and time use needed for food preparation
- Seasoning and nutritive spice such as Tetrapleura tetraptera powder/cubes (Prɛkɛsɛ in Twi language) among others
These enhanced value additions are to contribute towards redress of challenges including weak diversity of agro and fisheries products to meet different nutritious food requirements of diverse populations and inadequate innovative ideas and technology to develop new, healthy and safer fish/food products from indigenous and local underutilised fish and crop species to meet nutritional demands of cosmopolitan city dwellers in growing urban areas that confront the continent.
Ultimately, the outcomes include provision of solutions to tackle malnutrition, improvement in affordability of healthy diets and the realization of food security in Africa.
Engaging the stakeholders
It was against this backdrop that the FSL physically engaged stakeholders and potential product up-takers on the trial novel food products developed in Accra. Participants established frameworks for continuous exchange of lessons learned between the product development team and the stakeholders.
The meeting was facilitated using participatory approaches: discussions, brainstorming and questioning session. It provided ample time for women, men and youth attendees to contribute to the discussions and the issues presented. Mrs. Evelyn Buckman, the lead Product Development Scientist spoke on the 45 developed food products, the nutritional goals to achieve with each product, the knowledge gap hindering the attainment of novel products, and their business prospects.
In the end, participants identified best practices, analysed challenges, and proposed essential solutions to enhance and shape product development. They also identified about ten different sustainable products that can further be studied for introduction onto the market.