Could solar-dried papaya relieve malnutrition in Ethiopia?

Posted: 19 April 2021 | | No comments yet

A new project is hoping to make better use of the papaya harvest to relieve malnutrition in Ethiopia by creating more low-cost food options.

A lot of the papaya harvest goes to waste

The project is hoping to make better use of the papaya harvest to relieve malnutrition

Arla Foods Ingredients is partnering with other bodies in a new four-year project to turn papaya fruit into a nutritious and affordable snack for low-income consumers in Ethiopia.

Led by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the project brings together multiple public-private partners. Their ultimate objective is to build a fruit processing value chain that will help reduce malnutrition, create jobs and cut post-harvest papaya loss.

The application team at Arla Foods Ingredients has already developed the first prototype recipes for a dried fruit protein bar based on papaya pulp and containing milk and whey-based ingredients.

“One of our major tasks will be to adapt the recipe to local preferences based on consumer insights. Another role is to work with local food producers to ensure they have the necessary technology and knowhow to produce it,” said Charlotte Sørensen, Arla Foods Ingredients business development manager.

Reducing post-harvest loss

As the fourth most popular fruit crop in Ethiopia, Arla Food Ingredients says papayas are a source of income for more than 890,000 farmers. They are also highly nutritious, being particularly rich in vitamins A, B and C. However, every year, around 30 percent of the harvest is lost due to spoilage.

Those behind the new project claim solar drying is a low-cost and sustainable opportunity to reduce post-harvest loss and make more of the nutritious fruit available for processing into affordable foods. Addis Ababa University is investigating how to ensure the best nutrient retention during the drying process.

High local interest

“Farmers and food processors are very interested in this initiative to produce high quality, affordable products. We will support them with nutritional and value chain expertise and with creating consumer demand. Through this, we can contribute to the Ethiopian government’s ambition to reduce malnutrition-related stunting to zero by 2030,” explained GAIN project leader in Ethiopia, Meseret Worku.

The project’s leaders will hope that a better use of the papaya harvest will secure an improved income for farmers. In addition, the partnership project will develop a toolkit for training food processing workers and facilitate the creation of new jobs in Ethiopia’s food industry.

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