Energy Efficient Rural Food Processing Utilising Renewable Energy to Improve Rural Livelihoods (RE4FOOD)
In sub-Saharan Africa significant food losses occur as a result of a number of factors which include insufficient drying, inadequate storage, insufficient cooling and poor transport – all of which rely on high levels of energy input. Decentralised, distributed food processing supported by distributed energy supply can not only improve food security but also provide employment and income generation in rural communities. The local processing of food enables better storage and easier transportation, longer shelf-life, reduced seasonal supply effects, and produces products with added value.
The project aims to provide research which will support rural community business models for low and renewable energy input into optimised food processing which minimise loss and waste in the food value chains selected.
The project has the following specific objectives:
1) Investigate the opportunities and barriers to the use of renewable energy for rural food processing as well as optimisation of the processes to a) minimize losses along the value chain while at the same time aiming for improved product quality, and b) increase local value addition by SMEs and organised community groups;
2) Assess the losses in the food value chain for the products chosen, in Kenya, Sierra Leone and Ghana;
3) Identify low carbon and energy efficient storage and processing technologies and practices which can be de-centrally applied, reduce these losses and take advantage of renewable energy sources in a cost-effective way;
4) Deliver focused support to stakeholders through a network facilitating engagement, dissemination and knowledge transfer to reduce post-harvest losses and energy demand; and
5) Explore the opportunities for rural livelihoods in reducing post-harvest losses and adding value (through initial produce preparation, storage, washing, packing and common process unit operations, such as sterilisation, pasteurization, drying, and evaporating).
Coordinator: Prof. Tony Roskilly, Sir Joseph Swan Centre for Energy Research, Newcastle University