Baoquality is divided into five different work packages.
Work Package 1 – Quality assessment of baobab pulp along the supply chain and storage
Work Package 2 – Quality and processing technology improvement
Work Package 3 – Value chain, post-harvest losses and producer associations
Work Package 4 – Product innovation capabilities and system-level support
Work Package 5 – Transfer of project findings to pilot baobab processing facility in Kenya
Work Package 1: Quality assessment of baobab pulp and seeds along the supply chain and storage
Although the dried baobab fruit pulp has been approved in Europe, there is still a lack of basic knowledge regarding the main quality changing processes of the fruit pulp and seeds (raw material and intermediates) in dependency of harvesting, handling, storing and processing conditions. Since baobab products are widely eaten across Africa, it is crucial to investigate such issues in more details and also check the fruit pulp and seeds for any harmful components which may occur. Thus the main objectives of this work package are:
• To gain knowledge about the raw material and product specific properties as well as the current supply chain on-site. This includes aspects relating to prevailing post-harvest processes (e.g. handling, cleaning, storage, hygienic conditions, temperature), local processing techniques (e.g. technical equipment, hygienic environment, packaging and storage conditions), or transport conditions (e.g. duration, climatic conditions).
• To determine the main spoilage processes in dependency of the specific product, processing and storage conditions. This includes laboratory investigations into the nutritional composition, microbiological load, sensory quality parameters, and possible contaminants, for raw and processed baobab products during different points in the shelf-life of these products.
• To develop a rapid method for baobab quality assessment based on near infrared spectroscopy (food scanner). The focus will be on the development of an easy-to-use tool for quick, cost-effective and non-destructive assessment of baobab quality on-site.
Work Package 2: Quality and processing technology improvement
Based on the data obtained from the comprehensive investigation of quality aspects and their changes along the supply chain (work package one), measures for significant improvement in food quality and safety will be derived. This should foster the development of more tasty and nutritionally valuable products. Thus the main objectives of this work package are:
• To develop concepts for retaining/increasing the baobab quality along the supply chain. To achieve this suitable and economically reasonable measures for quality retention will be screened and selected together with the local partners and producers. Such measures may include good hygiene practices and HACCP concepts, optimization of product formulation and/or manufacturing processes, or optimized packaging materials or concepts, as most applicable for the situation on site.
• To optimize the rapid method for quality assessment. This will be achieved via suppling demonstrator systems of the food scanner to the associated baobab SME partners in the project consortium to test for practicality in the field and cost-effectiveness.
• To transfer the generated knowledge to the relevant stakeholders in Malawi and Kenya. Field tests and trainings on site will be conducted to transfer the gained knowledge about main food spoilage processes and suitable technological approaches for quality retention to producers or farmers. A special focus will be on the rapid method based on the food scanner which shall be tested in the field.
Work Package 3: Value change, post-harvest losses and producer association
In general, the markets for underutilized crops such as baobab can be regarded as thin, but developing – notwithstanding differences depending on the country in question. In Africa, baobab commercialisation occurs mainly via informal spot market relationships. In order to foster more successful participation of smallholders in such markets, collective action is commonly seen as a way forward since market failures may be overcome and transaction costs lowered. However, since not all such initiatives are successful, further insights into the mechanisms and benefits of collective action with regard to baobab commercialization are needed. Thus the main objectives of this work package are:
• To analyse governance mechanisms of baobab value chains with particular reference to value chain upgrading (i.e. strategies that lead to a better performance of the value chain or individual value chain stakeholders).
• To analyse collective action in baobab value chains amongst collectors and processors, in Malawi. Lessons learnt can then be transferred to Sudan, Kenya, and other countries, where no baobab collector associations exist to date.
Work Package 4: Product innovation capabilities and system-level support
The baobab processing sector in Malawi is characterized by a relatively small number of formal and numerous informal processing enterprises. The financial and economic performance of most of the baobab processing enterprises is relatively poor and many of the informal enterprises can be described as survivalist, heavily resource constraint and of low productivity. Currently, baobab fruits are mainly processed into fruit powder and oil, and the powder is further processed into a number of food products. By-products or side streams from baobab fruit processing, such as baobab shells, seeds, and press cake, are currently not utilised but could provide a potential raw material source for the development of new products, thereby increasing the profitability of the processing enterprises. Furthermore, the factors that determine the formalization of baobab processing enterprises, as well as the consequences of enterprise formalization in this sector deserve further studies. Formalization of informal enterprises is often a government priority in many developing countries, however, effects on informal entrepreneurs e.g. with regard to innovation performance are poorly understood. Thus the main objectives of this work package are:
• To analyse the technical feasibility, market potential and profitability of at least two innovative uses for by-products of baobab processing (such as seeds, shells, press cake) and to develop business plans for those undertakings, which offer commercial potential. In particular, baobab root tuber production (generation of a nutritious vegetable) as well as baobab briquette production (substitute for firewood/charcoal) will be investigated.
• To analyse the factors affecting the operational and economic performance of formal and informal baobab processing enterprises, as well as the transition of informal baobab processing enterprises into formal ones and its consequences.
Work Package 5: Transfer of project findings to pilot baobab processing facility in Kilifi, Kenya
The main objective of work package five is to ensure that project results will be taken up by policy makers and members of the baobab value chain. In particular, research results will be transferred to the community-based pilot baobab processing enterprise in Kilifi, Kenya, which was established during the Baofood project. The enterprise aims at processing up to 24 tons of baobab fruits per year, sourced locally from farmers around Kilifi for the production of high-quality baobab fruit powder and oil. These outputs will mainly serve as an ingredient for further higher-value processing into a variety of baobab products by local entrepreneurs. In order to support the long-term sustainable operation of this pilot processing operation in Kilifi, and to also contribute to the uptake and implementation of project results by stakeholders from the baobab processing sector, research results, technologies and innovations generated from Baoquality shall be made available for example through training workshops. This refers to topics such as the (rapid) quality assessment of baobab pulp and seeds; improvements of product quality and processing technologies, e.g. by the establishment of quality control procedures and development of standard operating procedures (SOPs); or the more efficient utilization of residue and side streams.
© BAOQUALITY Project 2021