|3 April 2017|

AFRICA

A crop critical to food security in Africa could be given an extra lease of life thanks to an innovative polythene bag.

Cassava is vital to the African continent providing half the population with its main source of nutrition. Its short shelf life is an obvious problem though but a bag with built-in curing technology could now keep it fresh for a minimum of eight days after harvest.

Pioneered through a collaboration between the Natural Resources Institute (NRI), based at the University of Greenwich, and the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), the bag would potentially more than triple the life span of the crop.

The pair rose to the Cassava Innovation Challenge – supported by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITAThe Rockefeller Foundation, Dalberg – and will now receive up to $500,000 to properly test and market the concept.

“We were encouraged when we received more than 600 applications from 32 countries with ideas for how to solve this problem of a short shelf life for cassava. Clearly a lot of people care about food security and ensuring that a vital staple crop is not lost to rotting due to lack of preservation technology,” said Mamadou Biteye, OBE, Managing Director for Africa at The Rockefeller Foundation. “Upon the recommendation of our expert judges, we are investing in NRI’s bagging technology in part because we see farmers using bags with great success to store other perishable crops. Now is the time to try this for cassava. We know that when farmers win, we all win.”