MKU innovator Fight Hunger, Food Waste Amid COVID-19
Before the coronavirus outbreak, food insecurity was already a severe problem. More than 820 million people – one in every nine – do not have enough to eat. Of these, 113 million are coping with hunger so severe that it poses an immediate threat to life and livelihoods.
With COVID-19 fiercely creeping into our communities, there are also serious concerns that further spread could further strain our agricultural sector which is already suffering from the desert locust invasion in parts of the country.
Border closures, quarantines, market supply chain and trade disruptions could restrict people’s access to sufficient/diverse nutritious sources of food.
This calls for need for households to be taught on new ways to preserve foods that can sustain a family for weeks if the current pandemic worsens.
In the wake of these crisis, a technologist at Mount Kenya university, Mr. Peter Mithamo has devoted most of this period to making sense of Kenya’s agricultural follies by designing and constructing solar domestic food dryers.
His invention, a low-tech thermal dehydrator, can be used to process fruits like mango, banana and pineapple, as well as vegetables, to stop them spoiling.
The systems work on the principle of the greenhouse effect. Air is heated to a constant temperature with solar energy, which facilitates extraction of humidity from crops inside a drying chamber. Ventilation is enabled at a constant rate through defined air inlets and outlets.
Mr. Mithamo technique reduces wastage and makes transportation easy while promoting health and welfare of the people especially during this time when food systems are strained and our body immunity is under test.
“this comes at a time when many people are panic-buying groceries at supermarkets, which inevitably means that excess food goes to waste when it can’t be consumed by the use by date, we are working to upscale this innovation to household level as coronavirus shifts life from commercial to residential” notes Donatus Njoroge, the head of innovation, Intellectual property and community Engagement at Mount Kenya University.