Millions of people across Africa are facing starvation. Stats have it over 20 million people in northeast Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan are fighting malnutrition and are on the brink of death from the famine.
While it is true much of this is attributed to the current drought hitting most parts of Africa, some safeguards could be used to mitigate the situation. That is food preservation. Africa and even the world as a whole loses a lot of food to wastage and spoilage during the transfer of produce from farm to fork.
Indeed the Rockefeller Foundation has researched into the matter and says up to a third of all food produced on the farm never reaches the consumers. It gets either spoiled or wasted during their transfer from farm to fork. Looking at just the food that gets wasted or spoils, it is enough to feed at least 800 million people and would go a long way towards addressing the current food crisis in parts of the world currently facing severe drought.
Looking at the African continent, it is said about half of all staple food harvest on the continent is lost to post-harvest stage preparations or before they reach the market. All thanks to poor preservation mechanisms.
For instance, Tanzania losses nearly 40% of its grains harvest to poor storage, costing the country some $332 million per year. South Africa, though having recorded increased food production, about 13 million people are said to go to bed hungry.
Calestous Juma, a Harvard professor and author of the book, The New Harvest, talking about Africa’s innovation in agriculture, says, “Like manufacturing, agriculture needs to be supported by complete functioning systems from production to consumers. The solutions lie in building reliable energy, storage, processing, and transportation systems to support agriculture.”
Possible Inexpensive Low-Tech Solutions
If Africa is going to be food-secure, there is a need for drastic measures that will involve massive investments and improvement of the food production system. However, there are some readily available, yet inexpensive solutions that could be deployed in both small and large-scale to mitigate the food wastage problem.
These solutions are pretty low-tech and inexpensive. They don’t even require electricity, thereby finding a solution to another problem facing most parts of Africa.
In 2001, Mohammed Bah Abba from Nigeria came up with the pot-on-pot system, which makes it possible to preserve food for weeks up from just days. The system is made up of two earthen pots one fitted inside the other and space in between them filled with wet sand. The pot’s opening at the top is the covered with a damp cloth.
Founded by a social enterprise based in Morocco, the Go Energyless is a low-cost natural cooler that can keep food preserved for up to 13 days.
This project started in an MIT class and developed a mobile cooling unit that does not need electricity. The unit allows for cooling of fruits, vegetables, and meat all in one place.