New technologies for storing use of roots, tubers and bananas

New technologies for storing use of roots, tubers and bananas

1-3 December 2014. Ntinda, Uganda. A new project is to explore increased use of roots, tubers and bananas (RTBs) and technologies to reduce their postharvest losses in Uganda.

The European Union is funding the US$4 million, three-year project. A workshop to highlight the research activities to be undertaken was organised in December.

Four RTBs — cassava, sweet potatoes, cooking bananas and Irish potatoes — were selected last year, according to Diego Naziri, a postharvest specialist at the International Potato Center (CIP) in Uganda and the leader of the project.

“This project will contribute to improved food security for RTBs and will contribute to the demand of postharvest and processing technologies as well as value chain and capacity development,” Naziri says.

He adds that unlike in Asia, the full potential of RTBs has not been realised in Africa despite their benefits. Naziri explains that Africa lacks technologies for storing RTBs, resulting in an underdeveloped potential for value addition.The researchers indicated that they would test: 

  1. existing technologies to prolong the shelf life of fresh cassava roots for more than seven days using high relative humidity storage, whereby healthy cassava roots are dipped in a household bleach, packed in polyethylene bags and maintained at high humidity in a cool environment.
  2. research on cooking bananas will reduce postharvest losses by promoting varieties with a longer shelf life and better postharvest handling properties. The project will pilot a new weight-based pricing system and promote different consumer products, including peeled and preserved bananas. 
  3. develop simple and affordable silage making technologies for conserving sweet potato roots and vines unknown to most pig producers in Uganda 

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