Innovative Value Addition Takes Center Stage At KITE 2023

Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation International, in collaboration with InnoFoodAfrica, participated alongside other global brands at the 24th Kenya International Trade Expo (KITE) held at Sarit Centre in Nairobi, Kenya from the 5-7th July 2023.

The organizers of the event, EXPOGroup, selected Kenya as the host country due to its status as one of the leading importers in Africa, the largest economy in East Africa, and a prominent regional center for finance and transportation.

Commencing on July 5th, the expo attracted the participation of 30 countries from across the globe. The opening ceremony of this remarkable event united delegates from various nations and was presided over by Hon. Kassim Were, the AG Head of Trade Development at the Kenya National Chambers of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI).

The expo focused on various thriving sectors within the industry, comprising five distinctive subcategories: Food and Kitchen Expo; Plastic, Printing and Packaging Expo (PPP Expo); Wine Expo; Fashion Expo; and Agricultural Dairy Poultry Africa Expo (ADPA Expo). Our participation focused on the Food and Kitchen Expo category, where we showcased our innovative value-added orange fleshed sweet potato products.

Traditionally in Kenya, sweet potatoes are usually boiled and served for breakfast. However, at the booth, we provided educational insights to the visitors, highlighting that sweet potatoes can be ground into flour. This versatile flour can be used to prepare soft chapatis and mandazis, introducing a delightful twist to traditional recipes. Furthermore, sweet potatoes can also be transformed into delicious crisps, offering a tasty snack option.

The newfound knowledge resonated strongly with many of our guests, especially women who had been searching for alternative flour options. For those who had quit consuming wheat due to medical conditions or a desire to manage their weight, the idea of using sweet potato flour as a substitute sparked great interest and enthusiasm. Their excitement was palpable as they discovered a potential solution to meet their dietary needs and preferences.

We presented two distinct types of sweet potatoes — Irene and Kabonde. The first noticeable contrast between the two is their size, as Irene sweet potatoes are smaller in comparison to Kabonde. Additionally, they differ in several other aspects. Irene sweet potatoes exhibit purple vines, while Kabonde sweet potatoes have green vines. In terms of leaves, Irene sweet potatoes have narrow and smooth leaves, while Kabonde sweet potatoes have broader and hairy leaves. Moreover, the conical-shaped Irene sweet potato boasts a maroon color, while the elongated Kabonde sweet potato displays a predominantly orange color. Both varieties are rich in Vitamin A, offering valuable nutritional benefits.

Figure 1: Young people at the booth exchanging ideas on how to engage in value addition

The young individuals who visited our booth were astounded by the potential employment opportunities that arise from value addition. Norbert Ngetich, from the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), expressed his admiration, stating, “You guys are doing an amazing job. As a youth, I am inspired to re-evaluate my path and venture into the agricultural business to seize the opportunities presented by Africa Harvest and InnoFoodAfrica.”

Similarly, Lexia Njeri from Saclan International shared her experience, explaining that her visit to the booth motivated her to utilize her neglected and idle land. “I will seek assistance from individuals to help cultivate the land, conduct research on the best crops suited for the area, and if I require any support or contacts, I will definitely reach out to you,” Njeri stated.

During an interview with Kenya Broadcasting Cooperation (KBC), Yvonne E. Mwende, the Communications Manager for Africa Harvest, emphasized the importance of thinking outside the box and creating opportunities throughout the agricultural value chain. “We are very insistent that agriculture is not simply about putting a seed on the ground and waiting for it to grow; there is so much more,” she stated.

Alemu Tesfaye, the Communications and Dissemination Manager at InnoFoodAfrica, also emphasized their role in food processing technologies during the same interview. He noted their ability to utilize these food processing technologies to create novel food products derived from African crops. This approach showcases the potential for diversification and value addition within the agricultural sector, leading to exciting new possibilities for the industry.

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Figure 2: Africa Harvest CEO Dr. Florence Wambugu and Alemu Tesfaye, Communications and Dissemination Manager, InnoFoodAfrica, at the booth during the second day of the exhibition.

The culmination of the expo was marked by a special courtesy call from Dr. Florence Wambugu, the CEO of Africa Harvest. Driven by the overwhelmingly positive response, she emphasized the importance of value addition and its remarkable potential to tap into a thriving market while creating ample employment opportunities. Her enthusiasm and recognition of the expo’s success further solidified the significance of value addition in unlocking economic growth and prosperity.

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