Handle with care, eat with gusto!
A light touch at harvest and a bit of culinary skill transform vegetables into nutritious, delicious dishes
Handling fresh vegetables correctly after the harvest helps to retain physical qualities such as color and texture—and also slows down nutrient loss. In March 2018, a total of 277 farmers from 20 Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA) farmer groups (157 men, 120 women [78 youth]) in the Meru and Arusha districts of Arusha, Tanzania learned about losses in quantity and quality that can occur at different stages of production and harvesting and how to prevent them from a dedicated WorldVeg team: Roseline Marealle, Inviolate Dominick, Zablon Ernest, and Adama Lyimo.
The hands-on training introduced simple postharvest handling methods to increase producers’ marketable surplus. Participants tried several harvesting tools, including fruit pickers and pruning shears; learned processing and sorting practices; and got a look at various packing materials such as plastic crates and wooden crate liners. Storage facilities were recommended for different types of vegetables. There was an emphasis on food safety throughout the sessions, such as following hygienic practices and carefully managing the moisture and temperature of fresh produce to delay spoilage.
The WorldVeg facilitators also discussed nutrition with participants. They stressed the need to consume different types of vegetables and explained the nutritional benefits of each.
Then, the trainees really started cooking. Using WorldVeg recipes, they were astonished by how easily they could prepare tasty vegetable dishes while maintaining the nutritional value of the fresh ingredients. Some farmers said they didn’t consume the daily required amount of vegetables not because of scarcity, but because of the way they cooked vegetables. Men had gone to the extent of discouraging their wives from preparing vegetables because of the poor taste!
The delicious recipes developed by WorldVeg changed the farmers’ opinions of vegetables on the spot. The new chefs returned to their homes, ready to make vegetable consumption a daily event to savor.
Story and photos: Justus Ocheing