Authors: Amy Atter1, Ethel Juliet Blessie1, Evelyn Serwa Buckman1, Stephen Nketia1, Frank Peget1, Alice Padi1, Constance Boateng1, Queronica Q. Quartey2, Seth Koranteng Agyakwah3
1CSIR- Food Research Institute
2Labour Productivity Centre
3CSIR- Water Research Institute
The double burden of malnutrition is predominantly widespread in sub-Saharan Africa, where undernutrition and overweight or obesity coexist. Several reasons have been assigned for this, among which is the increasing consumption of cheap and unhealthy processed foods that are high in energy, fat and salt content but low in nutrient quality. The busy schedules of people have also led to an increase in the consumption of unhealthy diets giving rise to diet-related diseases. The lack of nutritious foods has come at a huge cost to African nations, affecting not only the individual’s well-being but also the economic progress of the country.
Additionally, there is a significant case for value addition. Post-harvest pitfalls contribute to food waste in Africa since multiple system factors such as overemphasis on production without matching support for proper responsive transportation and mechanized processing devices and systems, especially for urban markets – mostly the domains of women in the supply chain. The situation in Ghana is not different. Research findings have indicated that approximately the country loses 3.2.million tons of food along the supply chain at a cost of about GHS762.32 billion whilst half of the population is moderately to severely food insecure.
Healthy and nutritious food from local products
A targeted and enhanced value addition will ultimately contribute to increased nutrition and health as well as time and form value of foods that would otherwise have been lost as well as an impetus in the transportation and processing equipment needed by women and increased incomes.
It is therefore imperative to address these challenges for both rural and urban populations by promoting the consumption of healthy and nutritious convenient foods, developed from local agricultural and fish biodiversity.
Accra Food System Lab (FSL Accra) together with Work Package 6, partners of the HealthyFoodAfrica project, have explored strategies to improve the nutrition of some local crops/plant and fish commodities by diversifying their preparation and packaging to enhance availability, usage and improve diets of consumers.
Consumer tests to ensure consumer acceptability
Consumer acceptability tests were conducted on 7 products selected from 45 trial products developed at Council for Scientific and Industrial Research-Food Research Institute (CSIR-FRI). The outcome of the test showed the acceptability of the products by the sensory panelists. The products were green leafy vegetables called ademe (jute leaves) and okro, fish chips, koobi (salted dried tilapia) in oil, fish sausage, koose (black-eyed pea) mix, fruity soy pancake, and instant cereal (millet and maize) mix.
Value-added products to relieve women’s burden
The HealthyFoodAfrica project consortium team from Europe (Finland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal) and Africa (Ghana, Benin, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia) made a study tour to CSIR-FRI (test kitchen, sensory laboratory, and fish processing laboratory) to familiarize themselves with ongoing project activities and products during a consortium meeting at the end of November and early December 2022.
A section of participants also tasted the different products developed including fish chips, koose, fruity soy pancakes, smoked fish (using the improved Ahotor oven), etc.
Entrepreneurs who are being nurtured as potential uptakers of HFA-developed food products by CSIR-FRI also exhibited some of their existing value-added products at a business stand created for them.
These value-added products will relieve women in particular, especially since the new products are either ready-to-eat or semi-processed nutritious convenience foods – further to some being nutrient-enriched. They are time and labour-saving, especially for urban dwellers, will create more business opportunities for women, decrease post-harvest losses in general and contribute to solving some of the challenges of malnutrition, managing demands of work and family life, and lower incomes.