GreenGrowth4Africa - Preserving West African Fermented Foods


Spontaneously fermented foods (i.e. food produced by the activity of microorganisms) are central to the West African diet. The preservation of the microbial biodiversity is therefore a crucial step towards food security. In addition to preserving this microbial biodiversity, this project, funded by the the Danish development agency Danida, contributed to the alleviation of poverty, the development of local businesses and the implementation of green growth strategies by teaching new skills.

The project was divided into six work packages:

  1. Value Chain analyses and contextual framing
  2. Establishment of biobanks and methodologies for preservation of microbiological cultures
  3. Optimization of microbial cultures, fermentations and processing parameters
  4. Implementation of starter cultures at SMEs
  5. New business opportunities for production and commercialization of fermented food
  6. Management, dissemination, uptake of project results and IPR issues

The value chain analyses revealed that within the selected food value chains, the traditional food production sector was a source for sustainable growth. During the course of the project, processing methods were improved using starter cultures, the food value chain was upgraded and new business models were established.

Biobanks for microbial cultures isolated from fermented products were established in participating African countries, namely, Benin, Burkina Faso and Ghana. The biobanks represent the first scientific infrastructure for preserving microbial biodiversity of West African fermented foods. In order to ensure long-term sustainability, the three biobanks have been inter-linked through cooperation agreements for duplicate storage.

The project is a continuation of the WAITRO program on capacity building for research and development on African traditional foods, which started in the early 1990’s with funding support from DANIDA and the EU. The participants included five WAITRO-members, Copenhagen University (Denmark), University of Abomey-Calavi (Benin), CSIR (Ghana), the Department of Food Technology (Burkina Faso) and DTI (Denmark).