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Development of market opportunities through post-harvest processing of the African indigenous vegetables in Tanzania

African indigenous vegetables (AIVs) have gained prominence in the recent past due to nutritional and health benefits. The low requirement for high value inputs has enabled low resource farmers to practice AIVs production. There have been improvements in the production of high quality AIVs seeds as well as more production of the AIVs leaf and fruits. As a consequence, there are occasional gluts of the AIVs leaf and fruit especially during the main production season. This study examined the challenges associated with production of processed AIVs and possible market opportunities using data from 10 AIVs processing groups and 21 key informants that were purposively selected. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and thematic analysis. It was established that processors did not have the necessary skills, knowledge and training required for processing of AIVs in more economically attractive ways. There was no diversity in the processing methods and processed products. Types and sources of packaging materials were restricted in various respects. Processors did not have special storage facilities for the AIVs. The share of processed AIVs in the total consumption of the vegetables was 25%. Sixty percent of those interviewed stated that the demand for all types of processed AIVs was increasing. Many institutions were supporting processing of AIVs. Quality of processed AIVs was perceived to be same as that of the fresh AIVs. Consumers were willing to pay more money for better quality processed AIVs. In order to increase sales of processed AIVs there should be informal agreements, partnerships or contracts depending on the degree of relationship between processors and consumers to guarantee target markets. Tanzania Bureau of Standard (TBS) and Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) need to create awareness regarding the specific quality requirements for processed AIVs. Training should be provided on different processing methods and the range of products that could be produced for different consumers. There should be financial support and/or linking of processors with the different credit institutions. It is necessary to provide processing infrastructure and training on marketing of the processed products. Specific requirements for the premises, processing rooms and standards should be explained to the processors to assure the requisite quality. Product branding has to be undertaken especially at two levels, which are indicating the key attributes of AIVs on the packages and certification by TBS and TFDA as well as having their labels on the containers of the packed products.

About Srini Rajendran

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