|Population and Nutrition (FAO)|
A group construction project to help ensure a supply of vegetables year-round.
Note: Check with your extension worker for suitable vegetables to use and the length of time they need for drying. Some areas may need more time than others.
· The group leader explains to the group how a simple drying rack is constructed (using the plans on the following pages).
· The leader explains the need for vegetables in the diet and how, by using the rack, vegetables can be dried and conserved to ensure a supply during the dry season.
· With the assistance of the group leader, the group then collects the materials needed for the rack.
· The group then construct the drying rack according to the plans on the following pages and prepare some dried vegetables.
FOR WHAT? / WHY?
So that group members will be able to:
· Understand the need for vegetables in the
· Learn one inexpensive method of ensuring constant supply of vegetables.
· Develop their capacity for participation an cooperation.
· The locally-available materials listed on the following pages.
· The plans on pages 35-37.
· Some vegetables to dry.
· Enthusiasm and group participation.
Note: If this activity is combined with a group vegetable-raising project, the dried produce could be sold as an income-generating scheme.
Some background information for the group leader
What are the effects of rapid population growth on food quantity and quality?
In many areas, the population is increasing faster than the farmers' ability to increase agricultural production. In fact, in Africa as a whole, the amount of food produced per person is actually decreasing. That is to say, there is less food per person today than there was 10 years ago.
At the family level, farmers with large families are finding it more and more difficult to produce enough food to provide enough nourishment for all. And even where they still manage to produce enough food, other problems of rapid population growth still affect nutrition levels. For example, in many areas, the rapid population growth has led to shortages in fuelwood. Most of the basic foods in the developing countries need to be cooked before they are eaten (wheat, rice, cassava, maize, most beans, etc.), but with the shortage of fuelwood, many families can only prepare one hot meal per day.
Therefore, rapid: increases in population growth can negatively affect both food quality and quantity.
To ensure that all types of food are availalble throughout the year, good preservation of food is essential. However, as much as one-third of all food produced in Africa is wasted after harvest due to: poor handling and preservation practices. The more people there are, the more important it becomes to make good use of every kernel of maize, every grain of rice, and to preserve perishable produce.
Building a vegetable drying rack
· 8 pieces of wood (or straight branches), each 140 cm long.
· 2 pieces of wood, 120 cm long.
· 2 pieces of wood, 80 cm long.
· 1 piece of mosquito netting or chicken wire, 125 x 85 cm.
· 2 large pieces of transparent plastic sheeting.
· Nails or screws.
· Something to hammer with.
The building process:
1) First, as in Figure 1, assemble the triangular sides of the dryer.
2) Next, as in Figure 2, attach the cross-pieces between the two sides.
3) Then, stretch and attach the mosquito netting or chicken wire to make a shelf in the middle of the dryer, as in Figure 3. This will hold the vegetables to be dried.
4) Finally, cover the frame with plastic sheeting and your dryer is ready (Figure 4).
Using the dryer:
1) Take some fresh, ripe vegetables, wash them and cut them into small strips or pieces.
2) Place the drying rack in a sunny place.
3) Remove the plastic sheeting and spread the vegetables on the mosquito netting or chicken wire. Then replace the plastic.
4) Allow the vegetables to dry for 2 4 days (drying time will differ in different regions and climates).
5) When they are dry, remove the vegetable pieces, allow them to cool and then store them in glass jars or plastic bags. It is important that these containers are tightly closed to keep out insects and moisture.
6) The dried vegetables will keep for many months. To use them, simply add them to soups or sauces when cooking.
Booklets in this Leaders Guide Series:
Population and Agriculture
Population, Employment and Income
Population and the Environment
Population and Nutrition
Population and Health
The Family and Family Size
Human Growth and Development
How the Population Changes
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations