.
 
Conference on "Why should we invest in Food processing and Preservation"
Held at CUR,
organized by the Faculty of Public Health and Human Nutrition this 31th May 2013.
The conference presentation was done by Mrs. Christine MUKANTWARI, Senior Researcher Fellow at Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB).

The presentation focused on following key points:

- Food Storage
- Food Packaging
- Food Security
- Benefits of food processing
- Why investing in food processing and preservation?
- Opportunities related to food processing
- Why promote food processing?
- Impact of food processing on environment


INTRODUCTION

Food processing is the set of methods and techniques used to transform raw ingredients into food or to transform food into other forms for consumption by humans or animals either in the home or by the food processing industry. Food processing typically takes clean, harvested crops or butchered animal products and uses these to produce attractive, marketable and often long shelf-life food products. Similar processes are used to produce animal feed.

FOOD STORAGE

Storage of harvested and processed plant and animal food products for distribution to consumers
Enabling a better balanced diet throughout the year
Reducing kitchen waste by preserving unused or uneaten food for later use
Preserving food, such as spices or dry ingredients like rice and flour, for eventual use in cooking
Preparedness for catastrophes, emergencies and periods of food scarcity or famine

PACKAGING

Packaging has been defined in many ways: Packaging is the art, science and technology of preparing products for market.
It is also can be defined as a product made from any material such as paper, glass, plastic, aluminum and wood that is used for the containment, protection, handling, delivery and presentation of goods from raw to processed goods.
Physical damage and chemical deterioration from mechanical and climatic hazards, as well as changes caused by microorganism must be prevented by proper packaging

Packaging is a techno-economic function aimed at minimizing costs of delivery while maximizing sales. It providing presentation, identification, information and convenience for the product from the moment of production until it is used.

FOOD LABELING

A panel found on a package of food which contains a variety of information about the nutritional value of the food item. There are many pieces of information which are standard on most food labels, including serving size, number of calories, grams of fat, included nutrients, and a list of ingredients. This information helps people who are trying to restrict their intake of fat, sodium, sugar, or other ingredients, or those individuals who are trying to get enough of the healthy nutrients such as calcium or Vitamin C. The label provides each item with its approximate percent daily value, generally based on a 2,000  calories diet

Food security in Rwanda















Most parts of Rwanda are witnessing improved food security, according to the third Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis and Nutrition Survey (CFSVA)

Currently, Rwanda is beyond being food secured  but farmers are producing for the regional market and prices have gone up  since 2008 taking advantage of regional food crisis
Benefits of food processing


Benefits of food processing include toxin removal, preservation, easing marketing and distribution tasks, and
increasing food consistency.
In addition, it increases yearly availability of many foods, enables transportation of delicate perishable foods
across long distances and makes many kinds of foods safe to eat by de-activating spoilage and pathogenic
micro-organisms.
Modern supermarkets would not exist without modern food processing techniques, and long voyages would not
be possible
Processed foods are usually less susceptible to early spoilage than fresh foods and are better suited for long
distance transportation from the source to the consumer.

Processed foods helped to alleviate food shortages and improved the overall nutrition of populations as it made
many new foods available to the masses.
Processing can also reduce the incidence of food-borne disease. Fresh materials, such as fresh produce and
raw meats, are more likely to harbour pathogenic micro-organisms (e.g. Salmonella) capable of causing serious
illnesses


WHY FOOD PACKAGING

Packaging food  products offers foods with extended shelf life that provides more time for sale, and income to
build small business. This process both recovers food normally lost and promotes economic development in the
remote regions.
The key is shelf life extension and safe food products.

Opportunities related to food processing

Through public/private sector partnerships, it is possible to establish a sustainable supply of locally processed
food products
One possible action is public investments in a food process and product development centre to support local
entrepreneurs with training and technical assistance in:

Improved food processing methods.
Researching and developing new and improved quality products.
Carrying out market studies and consumer tests.
Building consumer preferences and tastes into process and product development.
Establishing modern food safety/quality management systems.


Establishing producer owned enterprises
Well organised producer organisations have an opportunity to establish their own food processing
enterprises.
Establishing linkages with centralized food processing units
The alternative to setting up producer owned enterprises is to forge partnerships with the existing food
companies.

Why promote food processing?

To trap potentials-opportunities for
income generation
Food security
Improving livelihoods status of all Rwandans though
Self sufficient  in:  food, clothing, education, health,
Integrating food processing, new product development, food safety and quality in the management of food supply
chains increases competitiveness and contribute significantly to the establishment of sustainable food supply
chains that are consumer oriented and therefore competitive.

Impact of food processing on environment

Due to the highly diversified nature of the food industry, various food processing, handling and packaging
operations create wastes of different quality and quantity, which, if not treated, could lead to increasing disposal
problems and severe pollution problems
Waste from food processing;
Improve efficiency in waste treatment,
Minimize waste from food processing and manufacturing operations through advanced manufacturing practices,
and constructive utilization through bioconversion of by-products and waste into edible food, feed or industrial
chemicals in order to decrease environmental loadings as a consequence of better integrated waste
management (biofuel from sugar cane molasses, agricultural waste for animal nutrition, organic fertilizers) 
Environmental impacts can be minimized by:
                                                                                              1. Improving awareness
                                                                                              2. Better management

Such measures are likely also to improve product quality and reduce costs

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