October 16, 2019
Enjoy dry fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet. They are rich in vitamins and minerals and are an important source of dietary fiber. Several studies have shown that eating more fruits and vegetables can help maintain good health.
This year, people around the world are celebrating World Food Day on the theme “Healthy diets for a zero-hunger world”. The key message is to make healthy and sustainable diets affordable and accessible to everyone. World Food Day is a day of action dedicated to tackling global hunger. Held annually on October 16, the celebration brings people together to declare their commitment to eradicate hunger worldwide.
The theme for this year’s World Food Day resonates well with some of the work we do at BioInnovate Africa. We are happy to share one example: some of our partners in Kenya and Uganda are promoting a refractance window drying technology for fruits and vegetables. They use boiling water, which radiates heat through a thin plastic film to dry fruits and vegetables in a manner that retains their nutritive quality.
Professor John Muyonga, a Food Scientist at Makerere University’s School of Food Technology, Nutrition, and Bioengineering, who is leading this effort, believes that tackling global hunger begins with ensuring the availability of healthy food all the time.
“Healthy food such as fruits and vegetables are generally seasonal. They are not available during particular periods of the year. They have a short shelf life, which means that they get wasted if not consumed in time,” he says.
However, by preserving fruits and vegetables using the refractane window drying technology, Prof. Muyonga and his team not only make them available during off-season, but also increases their shelf life up to two years. “This process retains the colour, flavor, aroma, and nutrients of the fruits and vegetables; and we make them in the form of powder, cubes, and slices, so that they are easy to store and transport”, says Prof. Muyonga. The dried fruits and vegetables can be consumed by all age groups, either directly as a snack or as ingredients in other food products – thus giving us a chance to have a healthy diet all year round.