Kamuli Food Hub in Kalerwe, Uganda, will focus its agricultural activities on agro-ecological intensification. The main products will be composite flours and snacks (legumes, cereals) and primary and secondary processing will consist of smart storage, milling and baking.
Agro-ecological intensification and biodegradable mulching systems will be tested in order to boost the sustainable intensification of agriculture and horticulture activities on small-scale farms matching productivity enhancement with conservation potential through the introduction of combined agro-ecological practices (such as intercropping and mixed cropping systems and no tillage farming) and appropiate management of green water by eco-friendly soil coverage.
For processing, smart storage systems will be developed and tested addressing both the post-harvest and post-processing phases and meeting the needs of individuals and small cooperatives (low-tech solutions); communities, and/or companies that may also require either long – or short – term storage, back-up contingencies, and overflow capacity by effectively optimizing storage parameters. Storage structures will be safe and easy to build locally and for the logistics chain from the producer to the final consumer. In addition, this task will assess the maturity parameters of agricultural products and the resulting storability indices (e.g. colour, firmness, water activity, pH, NIR spectra, sugar, acid and secondary metabolite content). This will prevent possible degradation and reduce food losses and waste.
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.
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.