This Food Hub is located in the Mvomero district, in the eastern part of Uganda. In 2012, this district registered a population of 312,109 people.
In this district, there are already existing agriculture platforms (postharvest management platforms and others). Such an approach will help in making the food hubs sustainable and avoid duplication of efforts and resources, as the main observation from the discussion was the sustainability of the food hubs. It was mentioned that the previous value chain platforms failed because there were no funds allocated to support the activities of the platform. In Mvomero, it was agreed that the agriculture multi-stakeholder platform for the farming season will be used as the Food Hub.
The crops with the most important agricultural production in Tanzania are maize (62,8% of farmers produce it), rice (42.5% of farmers) and bean (29.5%).
FoodLAND surveyed a total amount of 504 farmers in this region with the aim of improving the background knowledge of African smallholder farmers’ decision-making and of individual and contextual conditions. 214 out of these 504 farmers surveyed were women, and the other 290 were men. 93.8% of farmers are not members of any local farmers’ associations.
According to the information gathered from the surveys, only 11.5% of farmers’ income is lower than the average income in the region, the income of 37.5% of farmers is about the average or somewhat higher, and 51% of farmers stated an income higher than average. With these incomes, 55.4% of them are able to meet their household’s food needs, 39.5% experience some difficulties, and 5.2% face serious food shortages.
Besides, they have reported major worries regarding the near future about infestation pests (3.90 on a scale from 1 to 5), income reduction (3.46), food shortage starvation (3.02), cost price increase of fertilizer or seed (2.77), health disease (2.71), and drought (2.58).
With regard to their interest and propensity to introduce new technologies and/or productions, 90.1% of farmers are extremely or moderately interested in adopting a technological innovation (4.59 on a scale from 1 to 5).
Technological innovations in this Food Hub
Selection of new improved legume lines. The overall objective of this subtask is to improve common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) varieties for agronomic and nutritional effectiveness, by identifying bean lines that combine high levels of iron and zinc, determining their cooking time, and determining the overall performance of bean lines with farmers in the on-farm experiments. From a total of 90 bean lines, 25 were selected in on-station field experiment. Now on-farm experiments are being conducted among researchers and farmers in the food hub. In this experiment, farmers will have chance to evaluate and select their preferences in the field twice, at flowering and at maturity stages.
Biodegradable mulching. Innovative biodegradable and compostable material with high renewability will be converted into mulch films and initially tested in field. They will compare effects of biodegradable mulch films and bare soil on sorghum, peas and beans performance and create awareness of the use of biodegradable mulch films in the Food Hub. The biodegradable in soil mulch film has been designed to comply with the specific climatic and agronomic conditions of the selected Food Hubs fields and crops, to be handled manually by Food Hub operators, and to be competitively priced for end users.
Precision harvesting systems. This action aims to develop/test/implement a system for detecting the optimal harvest date at a zone level, which will consist of a monitoring probe to measure temperature, relative humidity, and carbon dioxide level to aid the harvesting of beans. Another objective is to develop an app that can help advise farmers on the optimal harvest date since currently the start of the harvest season is based on the individual decisions of farmers without any collective consultation in relation to the maturity of production.
Smart storage systems. Two innovative but locally affordable technologies for food storage will be tested in Tanzanian Food Hubs. This has been decided in response to the need detected in the surveys conducted with farmers, where it was realized that most farmers in Mvomero are in remote areas and depend on a weekly market for selling their crops. Storage of fresh vegetables is very important so that they will stay longer with sufficient nutrition value. The two designs include cool bot with Wi-Fi and an improved zero energy cool chamber and will be equipped with sensors of microclimate preferably for determining the temperature and humidity, and other parameters that can be used to monitor the state of the stored crops. Additionally, an app will be developed so that farmers can monitor the storage condition through their mobile phones. The facilities will be powered by solar energy since most remote areas are in access to grid electricity.
Milling. The overall objective is to produce blended flours with improved nutritional and functional properties. Legumes and cereals blended flours will be produced from local food raw materials and characterised according to their physico-chemical and nutritional properties. Their sensory properties, shelf-life stability and microbial analysis will also be determined. For Tanzania, a minimum of three composite flours will be developed for both extruded and non-extruded flours.
Extrusion and baking. The overall objective is to process different locally available foods into novel convenient nutrient products, such as nutrient dense flours that have potential to address nutritional gaps, nutrient dense snacks that have potential to substitute low nutritional value snacks, and nutrient dense noodles from locally produced foods. The nutritional and physicochemical properties of the developed food products will be determined. Product formulations will be developed using locally produced nutritionally rich foods. These will include cereals (maize/sorghum/millet), pulses (common beans) and oil seeds (soybeans/sesame) for all Food Hubs. Final products’ nutritional value, physicochemical properties, storage stability and sensory acceptance will be analysed. Snack foods and baby food are the final products that will be produced in this Food Hub.
Bio-based packaging. This action is aimed atdeveloping and testing bio-based packages able to preserve the overall quality of food products from different Food Hubs, during storage and transportation. The activities to be done are the following: identification of different raw materials among several agricultural by-products from local regions to be used as material, optimisation of the coating formulation, assessment, characterization of preliminary obtained materials, pre-selection, testing at lab/small scale level of environmentally friendly, affordable, and suitable pack materials. This Food Hub is focused on bio-based package for dried vegetables and fish.