Governments, NGOs and private companies should consider food drying as the next step after the establishment of farms and urban agriculture projects as an integral part of value chain solutions. Every farm or production unit produces a certain percentage of sub-standard product. This, together with any surplus or unmarketable product, creates the perfect opportunity for drying.
Rachel Maartens, managing director of Neltropica Fruit, is willing to share her knowledge of food drying with farmers and entrepreneurs in the African and Indian Ocean islands region.
Most countries in the region have well established primary agricultural production sectors in different climatic areas over a wide spectrum of products. The primary production sector forms part of the foundation of the economic system of a country with direct influence on the economy and growth of the region. The challenge is not only to distribute the production of this sector throughout the whole region, but also to preserve seasonal surplus through different methods of processing.
Preserving available food through processing is the first (and most cost effective) step to ensure food security for the entire population, even in remote areas of the continent. Processing plays an important role in maximising the potential capacity of the primary production sector, in order to stabilise food supplies throughout the year. The different methods of processing, including canning, drying and juicing, increase the value of fresh produce by prolonging shelf life and creating convenience (ready-to-eat) products.
The modern world we nowadays live in can be very demanding. Everyone knows the feeling of waking up early to avoid the morning rush and almost never find time to plan ahead, least of all plan the meals of the day or week ahead. Taking into consideration the effect of pollution and stress on the human body, at least one balanced meal every day is now more important than ever. People easily revert to take-away meals and dining out, or simply eat what is easily available, to cut out the time factor of preparing a meal. Neltropica has the knowledge and the product to offer an easy solution to supply the essential balanced meal-a-day to a large portion of the African population.
During the summer months (November to March) Neltropica produces healthy dried fruit snacks for the whole family and in winter we focus on vegetables. The drying process is completed within 12 – 16 hours and removes up to 90% of moisture from fresh produce. All characteristics of the fresh product are captured in the end product, making it easy to pack, store and transport.
Nutrients are concentrated, meaning that a 100g packet of mixed dried vegetables will, when cooked, supply 4 healthy portions. Dried vegetables can be used in many different ways. It can either be used in a stew or soup, re-hydrated and then roasted or simply prepared as a separate dish. The problems of distributing fruit and vegetables in remote areas with poor infrastructure, are things of the past. Dried fruit and vegetables are products of the future. Neltropica Fruit is well positioned in the dehydration industry to supply the volume and quality of dried fruit and vegetables required by the ever growing market.
List of dehydrated vegetables:
- Baby vegetables
- Bell pepper
- Green beans
- Sweet potato
Benefits of dehydrated vegetables:
- Quick and easy to prepare
- No refrigeration necessary
- Low transport cost
- No cutting and peeling required
- Prolonged shelf life of 12-68 months
Apart from production, the establishment of drying facilities in production areas all over Africa is a high priority of the company. Neltropica is currently engaged in assisting farmers in Ghana, Mauritius and South Africa to establish on-farm drying facilities.
For more information on fruit drying, please contact Rachel or Adri at:
Email: [email protected]