SR article

Demand and supply in the Gambian dried food business

Will people be interested in dried food?

For a solar drying project it is of course important to know whether dried food is something that the target group will use when it is made available. Therefore, we have put some thoughts about this subject together in the article below.

In general, Gambian people are not very creative when it comes to cooking. They have about five different dishes that they cook for lunch and what was left over from this meal is used for dinner. All of these dishes are based on rice. This makes it difficult to complement their food pattern with dried products. Besides that awareness about the healthiness of the ingredients is very low. Gambian people use a lot of salt and oil and very few vegetables in their dishes.

Dried products soaking in water

An argument to uphold the solar drying concept is that it is quite easy to cook with dried food, as the dried food can absorb water again to regain some of their old structure.
In general, the Gambian people like a strong taste and that is exactly what happens to food when it is dried. Also, they love sweets and snacks. Everywhere small cakes, dough balls baked in oil and even homemade sweet ice creams are sold for a few Dalasi. Pieces of dried banana for example are very sweet and if they are sold in small bags, they could serve as a nice snack. This probably especially holds when there are no fresh bananas anymore. The same holds for e.g. dried mango. This way, the harvest seasons could be used in the advantage of dried fruit sellers. The price however should be low and people still have to choose this product over the usual snacks in order to make it profitable.

Dried oranges taste very sweet

During our time in The Gambia we heard a lot of people saying that it is such a waste that so much of their harvest gets spoiled. They are very enthusiastic about the idea of drying food with the purpose of saving it for later. This was showed for example when people started to use the large solar dryer in Jakaba village. They brought a lot of vegetables from the community garden at their own initiative and started drying enthusiastically.

Of course, it takes more time for the concept to get widely spread and only time will tell if people are actually going to buy the dried products at for example a market. However, at this moment we dare to say that the people in Jakaba village are prepared to consume their home-dried products and that is a great step for the start of the Gambian solar dryer industry!

Enjoying a lunch that was prepared with dried pumpkin, tomato, eggplant and bittertomato

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