Smallholder farmers in eastern Africa produce a diverse variety of fruits and vegetables that have unique nutritional and economic value. However, the value that can be derived from these crops is adversely reduced due to postharvest losses, seasonal production, limited value addition and challenges in market access. This in turn compromises food security and economic empowerment in the region. The use of affordable food preservation technologies has the potential to reduce postharvest losses by up to 68%.
For agricultural economist, Diana Asero, the BioInnovate Africa fellowship, with the guidance of Prof Arnold Onyango, gave her an in depth and hands-on experience in the process of product development and market surveys of value-added fruits and vegetable bioproducts from the Refractance window drier. In the four months that she spent at the Food and Technology Department of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and technology (JKUAT), Kenya, Diana was able to develop dried fruit snacks from papayas, pineapples and mangoes. Additionally, she also carried out a market survey to gain customer feedback on the products. She describes her experience:
Women are central to the development of an African bioeconomy. Bioeconomy in simple terms is the use of scientific knowledge to enhance the economic value of biological resources, whether for food and feed, or in medicine, industrial chemicals and bioenergy.
BioInnovate Africa congratulates Dr. Peggy Oti-Boateng for her recent appointment to the position of Director of the Division of Science Policy and Capacity Building in the Natural Sciences Sector at UNESCO Headquarters as of 1st November 2018. Dr. Oti-Boateng is the Chairperson of the BioInnovate Africa Programme Advisory Committee (PAC). The PAC provides technical support and strategic guidance to BioInnovate Africa, which is so far, the largest regional innovation-driven bioeconomy initiative in Africa!