THE PRODUCTION OF DEHYDRATED VEGETABLES FOR EXPORT

T.H. Jackson
Eastern Africa could be one of the worlds greatest vegetable producing areas, were it not for the difficulties and costs involved in transporting the produce to European markets. Except in the North, where high summer temperatures are a limiting factor, and in some parts of the Ethiopian highlands where frost is a problem, vegetables can be produced all the year round, provided rainfall can be supplemented by irrigation. This is due mainly to proximity to the Equator, where seasonal temperature change is not marked.

These favourable environments have been exploited by several countries of the region, notably Kenya, but also Uganda, Ethiopia and Sudan, to develop exports of perishable produce by air to European markets during the winter, when prices are high enough to offset the cost of air freight. However, the quantities which can be exported in this way are relatively small, due to limitations of air freight space and the luxury prices which must be paid by the consumer.

Some other method must obviously be found to enable bulk production to be exported. In practice this means preservation of vegetables to enable them to withstand surface transportation to distant markets without deterioration.

Canning is a method of preserving vegetables which is in common use, and more recently quick freezing has been developed on a considerable scale. These industries are highly organised in the more developed countries and it is unlikely that exports from Eastern Africa would be economically viable, except in the case of a few high value products, such as canned asparagus. Canning for the internal market is of course possible, but the size of the market will normally limit this to a small scale operation.

It would seem that the most practical method of developing vegetable exports on a large scale is through dehydration, the most ancient method of preserving vegetables. By removing most of the water, vegetables can be highly concentrated, so that from 10 to 20 tons of raw material only one ton of dehydrated product will be exported. Thus there is a marked reduction in the cost of surface transport and the product can also be stored until required for use.

Jackson, T.H. (1973). THE PRODUCTION OF DEHYDRATED VEGETABLES FOR EXPORT. Acta Hortic. 33, 77-80
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.1973.33.8
https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.1973.33.8

Acta Horticulturae