Grenada to produce flour from root crops
The Caribbean Research and Development Institute (CARDI) is collaborating with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to set up a solar-energy drying project to produce flour from root crops in Grenada.
At a cost of US$69,000, the pilot project ties in with Grenada’s thrust in dealing with the effects of climate change on crop production. The idea is to use solar energy in the processing of foods with the hope that it can be adapted on a wide scale, according to CARDI representative to Grenada Reginald Andall.
The solar dryers can be used for all root crops but will specifically focus on sweet potato flour for this project. “The idea, initially, was to promote cassava flour, but then we decided to promote sweet potato flour as the major one,” Andall explained.
“Production of sweet potato flour is not really something that is practised in Grenada as such. We have some degree of cassava flour, but, nevertheless, the principle of solar drying in root crops for making of flour and food preservation is the whole idea.”
Food security challenges
Andall said that due to the challenges COVID-19 presented for food security in the country, there has been an increased interest for sweet potato planting materials. This, he said, dispels any concerns that there may not be enough sweet potatoes to support the initiative.
“What we have seen here at CARDI is a massive increase by farmers and home gardeners in sweet potato production, and this took place as a result of COVID-19. People have taken it into their own hands to try to increase their local food production, and this is the first year in many years that we have seen such a great demand for sweet potato planting material,” he remarked.
The initiative was launched, virtually, two weeks ago, and what will follow is the setting up of systems to get the project off the ground. The plan is to have two solar dryers housed with two root crop farming groups on the island.
“That farmers’ group will have to be decided upon by the Ministry of Agriculture, in collaboration with ourselves, and then we have to build the solar dryers,” the CARDI representative disclosed. Work will begin in October and will run until December. “We hope to have those things on the ground so that we can implement and thus have that on-the-ground demonstration to farmers and processors of food and the public.
“For it to be very effective, we have to do a lot of promotion because the use of cassava and sweet potato flour is really at its infancy in Grenada. So drying of root crops for use in food preservation has to be promoted to a much greater degree.”