Energy Efficient Rural Food Processing Utilising Renewable Energy to Improve Rural Livelihoods

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: NIRES Newcastle Inst for Res on Env &Sus

Abstract

The World Health Organization already estimate that nearly 60% of the world population is malnourished and unless serious measures are not taken to address this then the situation will be exacerbated further. A lot of effort has quite rightly focussed on increasing food production but this is dependent on increased use of valuable resources. The minimisation of losses in the food chain will not only increase the quantity and quality of produce but also reduce energy, water and land use. Postharvest food losses are approximately one third of the total world yield and can be up to 50% in some developing countries.

The use of fossil fuels has allowed a greater number of people to be fed and to ensure that the numbers of malnourished are not even worse. Developing countries have high population growth and are increasingly using fossil fuels in food production to meet demands. Energy input is required across the entire food chain and it is estimated that 7-10 calories are required in the production of 1 calorie of food. This is primarily from fossil fuels which will increasingly be more expensive and post-harvest losses indirectly contribute to increased greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. It is therefore essential that technologies and practices adopted to reduce post-harvest losses are energy efficient and integrate effective renewable energy solutions such as biomass, solar PV, solar thermal, wind turbines, micro-/pico-hydropower.

In sub-Saharan Africa significant losses are as a result of a number of factors which include insufficient drying, inadequate storage, insufficient cooling and poor transport - all of which rely on high levels of energy input. Decentralised, distributed food processing supported by distributed energy supply can not only improve food security but also provide employment and income generation in rural communities. The local processing of food enables better storage and easier transportation, longer shelf-life, reduced seasonal supply effects, and produces products with added value.

The project aims to provide research which will support rural community business models for low and renewable energy input into food processing which minimise post-harvest loss and waste.

Planned Impact

The proposed project will bring together the research capabilities and expertise of staff at Newcastle University, Kassel University and a number of leading African universities to form an international mutually beneficial, multi-disciplinary collaboration. This collaborative team has been designed to ensure the important challenges of tackling rural poverty and food security can be successfully addressed through high quality research, stakeholder engagement and long term capacity building in developing countries.

The key objective for the project impact will be use international engagement to focus on the challenges which can support the utilisation of clean, renewable energy through the integration of technical solutions within a social context in order to reduce food losses and improve the long term economic situation for the rural community, both individuals and SMEs. This engagement will enhance existing UK-Africa research relationships, build new links with and between African universities/NGOs, and strengthen the competitiveness of the Higher Education Institutions (HEI).

Impact will be achieved through the identification of key beneficiaries, clear communication and engagement strategies, collaboration and exploitation. The workpackages developed will address the identified challenges and the research teams will work with each other and other stakeholders to achieve two way dissemination. The multi-stakeholder network will ensure researchers expand their knowledge base in this important field. All research results and data generated by the project will be made 'open access' and disseminated through a variety of mechanisms including stakeholder engagement and stakeholder events, planning of pilot schemes, co-authored project reports, dedicated website, research papers and new collaborative project plans. New outcomes from the collaborations will be presented at workshops and conferences.

The key research findings from this 3-year multidisciplinary research project will have a number of important technological, economic and societal impacts as well as a wide range of potential beneficiaries including rural communities and SMEs in Africa, Governments and policymakers, other researcher and society.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description 1. Levels of cumulative losses in identified vegetables are as high as 50% and occur at all stages of the value chain
2. Current renewable energy use in post-harvest value chain is low
3. Post-harvest losses that occur between the farmer and consumer can be minimised by embracing value additive technologies.
4. Marketing groups should be strengthened to offer economies of scale when marketing the farmers produce and running of cooling and storage infrastructure.
5. Simple cooling facilities should be built in areas with vegetable production to offer a prolonged period for vegetables before damage as the product awaits transportation to markets.
6. Need for greater empowerment of female and youth traders involved in the vegetable trading process. Through intervention post-harvest losses will be reduced.
Exploitation Route 1. Hold multi stake holder dissemination events to demonstrate project based outcomes
2. Create innovative ways of improving value addition in the process and increase the shelf life of the vegetables. This will not only reduce post-harvest losses but also increase the market price of the vegetables.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Education,Energy,Government, Democracy and Justice

 
Description 150 households in 134 communities within the project area (KNUST, Ghana) were surveyed and engaged in the post-harvest loss reduction in maize, using a direct mode solar drying system as a clean energy source. 30 traders and aggregators have also been involved in the use of the solar-biomass dryer for drying maize at a premium price. 60% of the 60 farmer based organisation (FBO's) studied will benefit from the solar-biomass dryer for drying their maize and other crops. In Sierra Leone, following limited trials, it has been demonstrated that the dried fish last as well as the smoked fish and are acceptable to the consumer. There are estimated to be 200,000 artisanal fishermen in Sierra Leone, the vast majority of whom currently smoke at least some of their catch. Therefore, economic and environmental benefits of this research are potentially significant.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Energy
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic

 
Description British Council Newton Fund Trilateral Workshop
Amount £54,000 (GBP)
Organisation British Council 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2017 
End 09/2017
 
Description The development and demonstration of a unique low cost scalable PV technology for international development.
Amount £76,090 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R042233/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
End 02/2020
 
Description REA4Food Collaborations 
Organisation Environmental Foundation for Africa (EFA)
Country Sierra Leone 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Market survey has been conducted in Kenya to cumulative losses in identified vegetables. Postharvest losses are as high as 50% and occur at all stages of the value chain. Current renewable energy use in post-harvest value chain is low and there is potential of renewable energy use along the value chain. This project has identified the innovative ways of improving the value addition and increasing shelf life of the vegetables, cereals and fish. Solar technology (solar tunnel dryer) for drying of the vegetables successfully evaluated. Business-technology transfer model developed and documented by combining the models suggested by the stakeholders in Sierra Leone, Ghana and Kenya. Identified charcoal and brick coolers as potential technologies for on-farm and trading points preservation of the vegetables
Collaborator Contribution In Ghana, drying grains, such as paddy and shelled corn, is one of the major postharvest problems. The problem aggravates during the major season where the harvest season coincides with long rainy and cloudy weather condition. This results in delay in drying which causes discolouration, deterioration and spoilage of grains. Such grains are often rejected by consumers and may demand low selling price. To address this challenge, a multi-purpose dryer utilising biomass (agro residues, wood waste etc) and the sun's energy for drying grains and other produce such as vegetables, cassava and yam chips even during the wet season is constructed near farmers market to reduce the transportation delay and cost. Pens Food Bank, Ejura (Farmers organisation) is working with KNUST, Ghana and Newcastle University, UK to maintain smoothly running drying unit operation.
Impact Use of renewable technology to reduce postharvest losses Development of business-technology transfer model
Start Year 2013
 
Description REA4Food Collaborations 
Organisation Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT)
Country Kenya 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Market survey has been conducted in Kenya to cumulative losses in identified vegetables. Postharvest losses are as high as 50% and occur at all stages of the value chain. Current renewable energy use in post-harvest value chain is low and there is potential of renewable energy use along the value chain. This project has identified the innovative ways of improving the value addition and increasing shelf life of the vegetables, cereals and fish. Solar technology (solar tunnel dryer) for drying of the vegetables successfully evaluated. Business-technology transfer model developed and documented by combining the models suggested by the stakeholders in Sierra Leone, Ghana and Kenya. Identified charcoal and brick coolers as potential technologies for on-farm and trading points preservation of the vegetables
Collaborator Contribution In Ghana, drying grains, such as paddy and shelled corn, is one of the major postharvest problems. The problem aggravates during the major season where the harvest season coincides with long rainy and cloudy weather condition. This results in delay in drying which causes discolouration, deterioration and spoilage of grains. Such grains are often rejected by consumers and may demand low selling price. To address this challenge, a multi-purpose dryer utilising biomass (agro residues, wood waste etc) and the sun's energy for drying grains and other produce such as vegetables, cassava and yam chips even during the wet season is constructed near farmers market to reduce the transportation delay and cost. Pens Food Bank, Ejura (Farmers organisation) is working with KNUST, Ghana and Newcastle University, UK to maintain smoothly running drying unit operation.
Impact Use of renewable technology to reduce postharvest losses Development of business-technology transfer model
Start Year 2013
 
Description REA4Food Collaborations 
Organisation Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)
Country Ghana 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Market survey has been conducted in Kenya to cumulative losses in identified vegetables. Postharvest losses are as high as 50% and occur at all stages of the value chain. Current renewable energy use in post-harvest value chain is low and there is potential of renewable energy use along the value chain. This project has identified the innovative ways of improving the value addition and increasing shelf life of the vegetables, cereals and fish. Solar technology (solar tunnel dryer) for drying of the vegetables successfully evaluated. Business-technology transfer model developed and documented by combining the models suggested by the stakeholders in Sierra Leone, Ghana and Kenya. Identified charcoal and brick coolers as potential technologies for on-farm and trading points preservation of the vegetables
Collaborator Contribution In Ghana, drying grains, such as paddy and shelled corn, is one of the major postharvest problems. The problem aggravates during the major season where the harvest season coincides with long rainy and cloudy weather condition. This results in delay in drying which causes discolouration, deterioration and spoilage of grains. Such grains are often rejected by consumers and may demand low selling price. To address this challenge, a multi-purpose dryer utilising biomass (agro residues, wood waste etc) and the sun's energy for drying grains and other produce such as vegetables, cassava and yam chips even during the wet season is constructed near farmers market to reduce the transportation delay and cost. Pens Food Bank, Ejura (Farmers organisation) is working with KNUST, Ghana and Newcastle University, UK to maintain smoothly running drying unit operation.
Impact Use of renewable technology to reduce postharvest losses Development of business-technology transfer model
Start Year 2013
 
Description REA4Food Collaborations 
Organisation Njala University, Sierra Leone
Country Sierra Leone 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Market survey has been conducted in Kenya to cumulative losses in identified vegetables. Postharvest losses are as high as 50% and occur at all stages of the value chain. Current renewable energy use in post-harvest value chain is low and there is potential of renewable energy use along the value chain. This project has identified the innovative ways of improving the value addition and increasing shelf life of the vegetables, cereals and fish. Solar technology (solar tunnel dryer) for drying of the vegetables successfully evaluated. Business-technology transfer model developed and documented by combining the models suggested by the stakeholders in Sierra Leone, Ghana and Kenya. Identified charcoal and brick coolers as potential technologies for on-farm and trading points preservation of the vegetables
Collaborator Contribution In Ghana, drying grains, such as paddy and shelled corn, is one of the major postharvest problems. The problem aggravates during the major season where the harvest season coincides with long rainy and cloudy weather condition. This results in delay in drying which causes discolouration, deterioration and spoilage of grains. Such grains are often rejected by consumers and may demand low selling price. To address this challenge, a multi-purpose dryer utilising biomass (agro residues, wood waste etc) and the sun's energy for drying grains and other produce such as vegetables, cassava and yam chips even during the wet season is constructed near farmers market to reduce the transportation delay and cost. Pens Food Bank, Ejura (Farmers organisation) is working with KNUST, Ghana and Newcastle University, UK to maintain smoothly running drying unit operation.
Impact Use of renewable technology to reduce postharvest losses Development of business-technology transfer model
Start Year 2013
 
Description REA4Food Collaborations 
Organisation Practical Action
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Market survey has been conducted in Kenya to cumulative losses in identified vegetables. Postharvest losses are as high as 50% and occur at all stages of the value chain. Current renewable energy use in post-harvest value chain is low and there is potential of renewable energy use along the value chain. This project has identified the innovative ways of improving the value addition and increasing shelf life of the vegetables, cereals and fish. Solar technology (solar tunnel dryer) for drying of the vegetables successfully evaluated. Business-technology transfer model developed and documented by combining the models suggested by the stakeholders in Sierra Leone, Ghana and Kenya. Identified charcoal and brick coolers as potential technologies for on-farm and trading points preservation of the vegetables
Collaborator Contribution In Ghana, drying grains, such as paddy and shelled corn, is one of the major postharvest problems. The problem aggravates during the major season where the harvest season coincides with long rainy and cloudy weather condition. This results in delay in drying which causes discolouration, deterioration and spoilage of grains. Such grains are often rejected by consumers and may demand low selling price. To address this challenge, a multi-purpose dryer utilising biomass (agro residues, wood waste etc) and the sun's energy for drying grains and other produce such as vegetables, cassava and yam chips even during the wet season is constructed near farmers market to reduce the transportation delay and cost. Pens Food Bank, Ejura (Farmers organisation) is working with KNUST, Ghana and Newcastle University, UK to maintain smoothly running drying unit operation.
Impact Use of renewable technology to reduce postharvest losses Development of business-technology transfer model
Start Year 2013
 
Description REA4Food Collaborations 
Organisation University of Kassel
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Market survey has been conducted in Kenya to cumulative losses in identified vegetables. Postharvest losses are as high as 50% and occur at all stages of the value chain. Current renewable energy use in post-harvest value chain is low and there is potential of renewable energy use along the value chain. This project has identified the innovative ways of improving the value addition and increasing shelf life of the vegetables, cereals and fish. Solar technology (solar tunnel dryer) for drying of the vegetables successfully evaluated. Business-technology transfer model developed and documented by combining the models suggested by the stakeholders in Sierra Leone, Ghana and Kenya. Identified charcoal and brick coolers as potential technologies for on-farm and trading points preservation of the vegetables
Collaborator Contribution In Ghana, drying grains, such as paddy and shelled corn, is one of the major postharvest problems. The problem aggravates during the major season where the harvest season coincides with long rainy and cloudy weather condition. This results in delay in drying which causes discolouration, deterioration and spoilage of grains. Such grains are often rejected by consumers and may demand low selling price. To address this challenge, a multi-purpose dryer utilising biomass (agro residues, wood waste etc) and the sun's energy for drying grains and other produce such as vegetables, cassava and yam chips even during the wet season is constructed near farmers market to reduce the transportation delay and cost. Pens Food Bank, Ejura (Farmers organisation) is working with KNUST, Ghana and Newcastle University, UK to maintain smoothly running drying unit operation.
Impact Use of renewable technology to reduce postharvest losses Development of business-technology transfer model
Start Year 2013
 
Description REA4Food Collaborations 
Organisation University of Stellenbosch
Country South Africa 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Market survey has been conducted in Kenya to cumulative losses in identified vegetables. Postharvest losses are as high as 50% and occur at all stages of the value chain. Current renewable energy use in post-harvest value chain is low and there is potential of renewable energy use along the value chain. This project has identified the innovative ways of improving the value addition and increasing shelf life of the vegetables, cereals and fish. Solar technology (solar tunnel dryer) for drying of the vegetables successfully evaluated. Business-technology transfer model developed and documented by combining the models suggested by the stakeholders in Sierra Leone, Ghana and Kenya. Identified charcoal and brick coolers as potential technologies for on-farm and trading points preservation of the vegetables
Collaborator Contribution In Ghana, drying grains, such as paddy and shelled corn, is one of the major postharvest problems. The problem aggravates during the major season where the harvest season coincides with long rainy and cloudy weather condition. This results in delay in drying which causes discolouration, deterioration and spoilage of grains. Such grains are often rejected by consumers and may demand low selling price. To address this challenge, a multi-purpose dryer utilising biomass (agro residues, wood waste etc) and the sun's energy for drying grains and other produce such as vegetables, cassava and yam chips even during the wet season is constructed near farmers market to reduce the transportation delay and cost. Pens Food Bank, Ejura (Farmers organisation) is working with KNUST, Ghana and Newcastle University, UK to maintain smoothly running drying unit operation.
Impact Use of renewable technology to reduce postharvest losses Development of business-technology transfer model
Start Year 2013
 
Description REA4Food - Stakeholder Network 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Stakeholder network for RE4Food has been established and holds the multi-stakeholder network knowledge gathering events (Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Ghana) for RE4Food. These events provide the opportunity to gather data, discuss needs, and identify real or perceived barriers, current and future developments to the use of renewable energy for rural food processing.

A formal working group that can have genuine influence of practice and policy within the specified partner countries relating to rural food processing and ensure a reduction in post-harvest losses and creating a robust value chain.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description REA4Food Workshop - Rural Food Processing 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact RE4food workshop 2015 conducted at KNUST, Kumasi Ghana during 13-14 October 2015 to explore the potential for integrating renewable energy technologies in rural food processing with the aim of contributing to the global food security and sustainability in food production by reducing post-harvest losses, reducing the reliability on fossil fuels.

Provided farmers and SMEs in remote areas with technologies that can be operated in insular mode, thus creating value along the food value chain.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://research.ncl.ac.uk/re4food/newsevents/re4foodworkshop2015.html