Nelly Bassily | July 26, 2010
This story portrays a small-scale entrepreneur who spotted an opportunity. Over time, tastes change and particular foods come into favour, while others are left behind for various reasons. When fresh or nutritious food is in short supply, perceptions about food change. The entrepreneurs in this story took advantage of the situation and may even have contributed to a change in tastes, by making dried vegetables more widely available. Dried or dehydrated vegetables have many advantages. They do not rot as quickly as fresh vegetables. If vegetables are fully dried (less than 5% moisture), and kept in airtight containers, they can be stored for more than a year.
However, once they are exposed to air, they are prone to mould and mildew. Dried vegetables are easy and convenient to package and transport. They are easy to cook with and can be added to many recipes just by using extra water. Perhaps most importantly, dried vegetables contain the same amount of nutrients as fresh vegetables.
Here is a useful factsheet on methods for drying vegetables, nutritional values, and the steps involved in drying certain vegetables: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09308.html.
Farm Radio International has produced many scripts on food processing and storage. Choose from this selection: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/food.asp.
In this script from 1996, Sarah Massengo in Tanzania explains how to prepare dried vegetables at home: Hints for the Small Farmer
In this script, farmers from Bangladesh explain how they dry rice seed. Farmers could experiment with similar methods for drying vegetables: Dry rice seed off the ground to ensure top quality
And this script describes a process for drying fruit and vegetables: Let’s Preserve Our Fruit and Vegetables!
This week’s story might inspire you to host a call-in show on which farmers share experiences of drying fruit and vegetables.
-How common is it to process fruit and vegetables for domestic storage and use in your broadcast area?
-Which crops are commonly processed or preserved?
-Who does the processing and storage work?
-How are dried fruit or vegetables used? Do listeners have recipes to share?
-If this is not common practice, why not? How could barriers be overcome?