Food wastage is one of the main drivers of food insecurity as well as the third largest source of global greenhouse gas emissions. In Kyrgyzstan, nutritional deficiencies cause stunted growth in 18% of children under 5 and 33% of women in their reproductive years are anemic. This is where Rural Service Providers can to help make a difference with nutrition sensitive interventions. (Photo by Ms. B. Raimkulova, RSP in Kyrgyzstan)
My name is Alisher Yuldashev. I am working with the villagers of the Ala-Buka district in Kyrgyzstan to build low-cost fruit and vegetable drying facilities and raise awareness on the importance of nutrition sensitive diets. This intervention is part the Nutrition in Mountain Agro-ecosystems (NMA) Project.
Following our training session in May 2016, we organized focus group discussions on increasing awareness of the importance of nutrition in daily diets. After surveying a group of women in Dostuk and Japa-Saldy villages, we found significant nutritional gaps in their diets, particularly in wintertime when either no fresh fruit & veg are available or only at prices few can afford.
Yet, I often see unsold produce left to spoil at farmers’ markets. With no other solution at hand, good food gets thrown away because neither producer nor seller has access to the knowledge and resources needed to extend its shelf life by drying it.
However, if farm workers were able to dry fruit and veg after harvest, it could be stored and eaten at a later stage providing families with a year round source of nutrients and vitamins, a more diversified and healthier diet.
With this in mind, we began the construction of drying facilities in late August 2016. Although a busy time for farm workers, I was happy to see many attend the demonstration with their wives, sisters and mothers.In addition to showing participants how to build the drying facility, we also shared information about the nutritional value of dried fruit and the vital role it can play in achieving a balanced healthy diet.
Within four days, 20 participants from two villages had built eight solar dryers and distributed them among the group. It was also possible to build an own dryer for use in the home. (Photo on the right by Ms. B. Raimkulova)
The great thing about these drying facilities is that they can be built using locally available materials and use the heat of the sun to dry the produce. The design enables the sunrays to fall directly on each of the 5 large shelves each 1.8 m2 in size. If farmers want to speed up the drying process, they can add a fan.
We then got to work on drying apples and red plums using a process that ensures the fruit maintains its nutritional value. The training days came to an end with participants happy with their results in particular in terms of quality and taste. At the end of September 2016, I visited the groups of women to see how things had progressed with the solar dryers. (Photo above right by Ms. A. Sabaybekova, RSP in Kyrgyzstan)
The group from from the Japa-Saldy village had managed to use the solar dryers more efficiently in comparison to those from Dostuk village e.g. Usupbekova Kanayim dried plums and apples and Batyrova Venera dried sweet pepper, pear, tomatoes, and apples.
Now farmers can plan what to sell fresh at the market and what should be dried and stored for later. Food that could have been lost post harvest is preserved in a nutrition sensitive process. Families can include nourishing dried fruit in their daily diets particularly important when access to fresh fruit and vegetables is difficult.
Funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Section Global Programme Food Security (GPFS) , the implementation of the Nutrition in Mountain Agro-ecosystems Project is mandated to IFOAM - Organics International with its consortium partners FiBL and Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation.