The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates food waste across the globe to be 1.3 billion tones. Food currently lost in Africa could feed 300 million people. Ironically, thousands die on the continent due to hunger and malnutrition.
Fruits, vegetables, roots and tubers account for the highest wastage rates of any food.
Some of the major reasons for the food waste include poor storage facilities, inadequate value addition techniques as well as poor infrastructure.
Lawrence Okettayot, an engineering graduate has come up with a way to address food waste in his Uganda.
The 23-year-old has invented a dehydration system that could help farmers to dry food produce including vegetables, and fruits using locally sourced biofuels.
According to Okettayot, his family has suffered losses due to food waste over the past few decades. Thus, the machine named Sparky Dryer by the inventors will come in handy to provide the needed solution.
Sparky runs on biofuel sourced from a farmer’s garden and burns with zero-carbon emissions to dry the farmers chosen produce ranging from grains, to roots and tubers to vegetables.
The dryers provide efficient means to dry foods and can dehydrate 10kg of mango in two hours running on 2kg of biofuel. The price starts at $80 and could go higher depending on the farmers’ specifications.
Okettayot and his team receives orders from farmers. Farmers describe the specification (products it will be used to dry) of the dryer, then the team creates it to satisfy the need.
With such innovations, Africa could address the issue of food waste especially during the harvest season when the supply is in excess.
Sparky Dryer has been shortlisted for the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Africa prize for engineering innovation.