Mvomero, Morogoro rural Food Hub is located in Morogoro, Tanzania. Selection of new lines, intercropping and precision harvesting will be the agricultural activities to be carried out, while the main food products will be legumes, composite flours and snacks (legumes, cereals). In order to achieve these products, firstly the smart storage and milling processes will be used and secondly the extrusion and baking processes.
With regard to legumes, an evaluation will be made of the potential agronomic and nutritional efficacy of the improved lines (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) with enhanced levels of beneficial traits (Fe and Zn, yield, tolerance to diseases and drought) in on-station experiments to confirm their performace.
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 through eco-friendly soil coverage.
In addition, the activity of precision harvesting will develop, implement, and test smart monitoring and control systems aimed at optimizing and standardizing timing and procedure of harvesting of crops and fruits in order to minimize losses at harvest and preserve the quality of the products. The system will comprise and harmonize the following: remote sensing tools (e.g., drones and weather station, such as AWS, with agro-meteorological sensors), telecommunication at local level (ICTs including IoT), monitoring centre (with data analysis and evaluation technologies), and mobile apps for end users.
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 at optimizing 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.
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 to run laboratory tests to optimize baking technologies and methods to produce local shelf-stable nutrition-responsive products so as to add value.