PR – As part of a project to support resilience-building in the productive sectors of Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) through the introduction of solar technologies, the Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute (CARDI), in collaboration with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), hosted a one week training in Grenada.
From Nov. 16 to 20, agro-processors and agro-processing groups interested in utilising this renewable energy resource for the preservation of food were allowed to gain a better understanding of areas such as solar drying, good hygiene, sanitation and food safety practices in relation to food processing and techniques in sweet potato flour processing. This initiative is anticipated to promote value addition in the root crop sector. The use of solar drying is expected to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels, thereby building resilience in agri-food value chains.
Identifying the challenges commonly faced by agro-processors in Grenada, including lack of capital, inefficient processing and marketing, FAO Representative, Michael Church, spoke of the international organisation’s readiness to support.
He said, “While FAO understands that agricultural development faces a number of challenges, it is our hope that the training would be a great opportunity, which would enhance the capacity of
agro-processors and improve their small scale businesses to meet market demands and to put them in a position to expand or attract investments.”
CARDI official, Reginald Andall, said although there are plans to work with other root crops, such as cassava, the focus was placed on sweet potato, due to its nutrient content.
He said, “Solar energy will be used to dry root crops, particularly sweet potatoes, which are very nutritious, and it is well loved across the island and in the Caribbean.”
Throughout the project, CARDI & the FAO will collaborate with the Government of Grenada to work with the recipient beneficiary group for the installation and use of a solar drying and root crop flour production facility. Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture, Elvis Morain, welcomed the use of a cleaner and environmentally friendly process for food preservation.
“An investment in solar is a worthy one. Participants are well placed going forward, so we can build on the training and other trainings in the future,” he said.
The project aims to bring a new variety of flour to the Grenadian market – one which is highly nutritious as well as gluten free. The project is worth an estimated US$69,000.