Kilombero/Lindi Food Hub in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, will work on dried vegetables and fish. The main agricultural activity will be rural aquaculture and intercropping, and processing will consist firstly of smart storage and solar drying, and secondly packaging.
In the case of integrated aquaculture, technological research will be carried out with the aim of combining the most advanced aquaculture technologies with simple, low-investment methods to achieve a breakthrough 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. In suitable rural areas, Kilombero for example, integrated vegetable and fish farming production will be promoted and validated in line with safety standard.
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.
Regarding the solar drying, the aim will be to reduce moisture content to the acceptable levels and, in so doing, to prolong 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.
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 on a small scale for at least 4 relevant, specific food products. This is done so as to obtain high level quality maintenance during storage under different environmental conditions. Specifically, a cassava-bio based sausage packaging film will be investigated for fish sausages.