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HORTINLEA – a joint project with East Africa on the field of global food security

The aim of the project is to improve the livelihood and nutritional situation in urban and peri-urbane areas in Kenia and adjacent areas in Tanzania and Ethiopia. The main focus lies on increasing production and offer of indigenous African vegetables and to improve the efficiency of the regarding value chain.

In 14 subprojects knowledge to increase productivity, product quality, durability, processing, logistic, and marketing is developed. Socio economic subprojects evaluate the contribution of these processes to poverty reduction, improvement of food supply, reduction of transaction costs, and increasing local sustainability. The project offers young African scientists the opportunity to work at the German Institutes in the frame of a PhD work.

Research activities of the Department of Safety and Quality of Fruit and Vegetables are situated in subprojects four and five. In subproject four quality losses of African leafy vegetables during the supply chain are characterized to improve quality and safety of food and to prolong their short durability which is a big problem. Influences of modified atmosphere storage, post-harvest processing methods like fermentation, and solar drying on the quality (ingredients and microbiological quality) and safety (pathogens and mycotoxins) of the vegetables are investigated. The necessary plant material is on one hand cultivated in the phytotron and greenhouse of the Department of Safety and Quality of Fruit and Vegetables and on the other hand achieved as freeze dried material from Kenyan partners.

Target of subproject five is to determine the contribution of a higher consumption of fresh and optimal processed leafy vegetables to improve food security of people in the areas of East Africa. For this purpose nutrient profiles of fresh, stored, and processed leafy vegetables are developed and essential nutrients (vitamins and minerals) are quantified. Together with project partners the spectrum of potential health promoting secondary metabolites (carotinoids, glucosinolates, and flavonoids) is characterized and quantified. The results of subproject four about optimized processing methods are combined with clinical studies of a co-operation partner to evaluate the bioavailability and a possible protective effect of health promoting ingredients in humans.

HORTINLEA (Horticultural Innovations and Learning for Improved Nutrition and Livelihood in East Africa) is one of six projects funded by the BMBF in the frame of “GlobE: Global food security of the national research strategy BioÖkonomie 2030”. The joint project with a funding time from 2013 to 2018 was elected out of 50 applications and is funded with 1.5 Mill. Euro per year. The project is co-ordinated by the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Prof. Dr. Bokelmann.