August,13,2020 | News

CARDI and FAO to host webinar on using solar energy for food preservation

CARDI and FAO collaborating on a project aimed at harnessing solar power for food preservation

The Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), will be hosting a webinar on 6 August 2020 focusing on the use of solar energy as a renewable energy resource for food preservation.


The webinar, which targets farmers, agro processors and policy makers, will introduce solar drying as an option for food processing in the Caribbean and provide perspectives on the production and consumption of cassava and sweet potato flours in the Eastern Caribbean.


Barton Clarke, CARDI’s Executive Director stated, “If we are to feed a growing population in a sustainable manner we need to adopt more energy smart practices at every stage of agriculture value chains”. One of the biggest constraints preventing agriculture stakeholders from investing in energy efficient operations is the lack of information. Through this project, CARDI and FAO are helping to address some of the knowledge gaps that exist between the energy and agri food sectors, Clarke concluded.


Renata Clarke, Sub-regional Coordinator at FAO, highlighted that drying is one of the most important steps for preservation and value addition of food products. She indicated, “Solar drying is an efficient and cost-effective, renewable, and sustainable drying option for the conservation of a broad spectrum of agricultural products – root crops, herbs and spices, fruits and vegetables to name a few”. She also indicated that innovations in this area can contribute towards the region’s efforts of bolstering food security and reducing the food import bill in the Caribbean.


Dr Randy Koon Koon, from UWI Mona, will present on “Solar drying for food processing” whilst Dr Lynda Wickham, an eminent roots and tubers researcher, will present on the “Use of roots and tubers in composite flour making”.


Following the webinar, the project will collaborate with the Government of Grenada to identify and select a recipient group for the installation of a solar drying facility. A virtual training workshop will also be held for 25 participants on the production, harvesting, post-harvest handling, solar drying, packaging, and marketing of sweet potatoes into flour. A range of recipes will also be produced using sweet potato flour as a means of promoting the widespread use of this gluten free product.

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