The Food Systems Research Group addresses challenges and opportunities relating to the spectrum of activities from food production to consumption, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries. Research currently undertaken by the group encompasses food processing technologies, food safety and quality management and food loss and waste – with the ultimate aim of improving the livelihoods and nutritional status of vulnerable populations.
Members of the Food Systems Research Group work on a range of plant- and animal-source foods, with particular experience in the post-harvest stages of staple food value chains. Work to date has included strategies to improve incomes and health and safety outcomes for small, medium and large cassava processors, through new product development and improved drying and water removal technology. Research activities also encompass food fortification as a means of addressing micronutrient deficiencies, measuring the nutritional impact of post-harvest crop losses, and biofortification.
Our achievements include:
- Understanding how to effectively remove cyanide from cassava during processing
- Developing more efficient, cost effect and locally manufacture equipment for drying cassava flour suitable for small-scale cassava processors
- Developing improved equipment that is locally manufactured for removing water from grated fermented cassava
- Developing curing and bagging methods for increasing the shelf-life of fresh cassava roots
- Development of simple methods to measure consumer acceptance of novel food products, that are suitable for use in rural and urban populations who have a low level of formal education in low to middle income countries
- Development of approaches to measure food choice, particularly migrants from rural and urban centres in Africa
- Measuring the safety and economic importance of street vended foods in Africa and Asia
- Evaluating the contribution of small-scale chicken-keeping to the diets, health and nutritional status of young children in rural communities in Africa
- Improve nutrition diversity through access to biofortified foods, more acceptable foods, new products
The Food Systems Research Group’s future research strategy includes:
- Application of better technologies to improve processing and measuring for small-scale producers in low income countries. Current examples include the development and refinement of flash dryers for cassava flour, better dewatering (water removal) approaches for grated cassava, and rapid and low-cost moisture determination of cassava and its products.
- Evaluating the nutritional impact of national and sub-national interventions in food systems to address micronutrient deficiency in vulnerable populations, including through food fortification and programmes to support dietary diversification.
- Understanding the food choices and consumer acceptance by rural and urban consumers in low to middle income countries.
- Improving the safety of workers who process food products in low to middle income countries. Examples include monitoring air pollution.
- Developing simple to apply food safety systems for use by small-holders in Africa.