West Africa is highly vulnerable to malnutrition. Strategies focusing on food fortification to address malnutrition, such as genetically modified crops like golden rice, can benefit from efforts to increase access to nutritious foods in low and middle income countries (LMICs). Thus, this project will research and develop effective strategies to increase dietary diversity, which includes the consumption of underutilized nutritious fruits and vegetables.
The University of Ghana, led by Principal Investigator Gloria Esselfie, partnered with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Institute in Ghana, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), and University Of Science Of Technical and Technology De Bamako, to design a project that aims to increase consumption of African indigenous fruits and vegetables (AIFVs) and thereby improve the nutrition of Ghanaians and Malians. The method to be conducted includes the following steps: 1) select four nutritious indigenous crops and assess what postharvest technologies are used locally to preserve their shelf-life, as well as analyze their nutritional content; 2) perform value chain analysis for each of the selected crops to understand their place in the Malian and Ghanaian food systems, as well as mobilize the relevant stakeholders to be involved; 3) conduct laboratory analyses of AIFV postharvest technologies and test their acceptance by stakeholders that include farmers, processors, and retailers; 4) design a call tailored to women and youth entrepreneurs to design enterprises focusing on AIFVs; and finally, 5) disseminate findings through policy briefs, social media, television, and promotion by local opinion leaders and influential artists.
This project is expected to increase consumer awareness of the nutritional benefits as well as the consumption of AIFVs—which are currently viewed by many consumers as low quality compared to imported foods. In addition, this project expects to increase income for farmers, processors, and retailers along the AIFV value chain, through promotion of women and youth-led enterprises and increasing the shelf life of AIFVs.