Kajjansi/Masaka Food Hub in Kampala, Uganda, will specialize in fish cakes, balls, noodles, nuggets, burgers and fillets. After using the rural aquaculture and polyculture techniques, the products will be processed firstly by solar drying and milling, and secondly by extrusion, baking and packaging.
Technological research will be carried out for integrated aquaculture systems with the aim of combining the most advanced aquaculture technologies with simple, low investment methods to achieve a break-through in rural and peri-urban fish farming. The partners will develop advanced RAS – indoor methods that allow farmers to reuse water within the culture cycle – for rural and peri-urban fish farming, implement water quality sensors, and develop new polyculture pond-cage technology and fish products. Management schemes (e.g., feeding, hygienic conditions, stocking fingerlings, and effluent reuse) and product quality will be optimized. Methyl-testosterone (MT) in feed to create monosex (all male) tilapia population will be applied, considering it is a widely used practice without human health risks. Ovaprim (a licensed and widely used synthetic hormone for the controlled propagation of fish in hatcheries) will also be used.
For processing, the aim of the solar air drying techniques will be to reduce moisture content to the acceptable levels and, in so doing, to prolong the shelf-life of the raw materials, ingredients, and food products, while preserving their quality and preventing spoilage and waste. The developed solar air dryers will target different food raw materials and enable smallholder producers to treat their products using scalable dryers built with low-cost materials, which are simple to operate, and are energy efficient.
In the case of milling processes, the aim is twofold. Firstly, these are implemented and tested to produce composite flours that combine food raw materials. For instance, introducing legumes into the complementary diet has the potential to improve childhood growth. Secondly, the work aims to optimize the particle size distribution so as to add value to the final blended flours. These will be formulated together with the SME partners taking care of nutritional and functional aspects to obtain healthy novel food products especially for children.
In addition, an appropiate fish smoker will be developed for rural areas. Three processing options will be investigated and acceptability studies of the fermented fish products will also be tested across different ethnic groups.
The extrusion, as a continuous process with high versatility and productivity, represents a good means of incorporating different types of the locally available materials (legumes, sorghum, and soy) into ready-to-eat snacks. The use of grain legumes and sorghum in snack foods may help to increase their nutritional appeal. Thus, new extrusion technologies and processes will be tested in collaboration with SME partners to produce high quality nutrient-dense snacks (novel products) that enhance diversity of diets. Moreover, extrusion represents a suitable pre-treatment to baking. Most baked products consumed in Africa are based on refined (mostly imported) wheat and are low in nutritional value. In order to address this situation, the subtask aims at running laboratory tests to optimize baking technologies and methods to produce local shelf-stable nutrition-responsive products so as to add value.
Bio-based packages that are able to preserve the functional and nutritional properties of the food products, reduce their contamination during storage (and transportation), and increase their marketability and attractiveness will be developed and tested. The availability of environmentally friendly, affordable, and optimal packaging materials, and technologies will be assessed, pre-selected, and tested at small scale for at least 4 relevant, specific food products. This is done so as to obtain high level quality maintenance during storage at different environmental conditions. Specifically, a cassava-bio based sausage packaging film will be investigated for fish sausages.