The food on your plate might be delicious, but is it also good?

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Rikolto and its partners are addressing food safety challenges in Tanzania

By Ine Tollenaers

We all enjoy a tasty meal, but we cannot determine the safety of food based solely on sight or smell, but food scientists can.

In collaboration with Tanzania Plant Health and Pesticides Authority and Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, Rikolto conducted food safety studies for fresh fruits and vegetables in Arusha, Iringa and Mbeya regions.

The findings from the study point that eating fresh fruits and vegetables therefore exposes people to over 200 diseases, including cancer, food poisoning and Communicable Diseases. To ensure that the food on our plate is good food, all actors from farm to plate, must work together to strengthen food safety regulations.

Funded by the European Union’s (EU) flagship AGRI-CONNECT programme, Rikolto, Agrónomos sin Fronteras, Inades-Formation Tanzania, MIICO Consortium and Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (TCCIA) Mbeya are implementing the project titled “Building Inclusive and Competitive Horticulture Businesses in Tanzania’s Southern Highlands”.

Rikolto and its partners are working to improve food safety throughout the food system in Iringa, Njombe, Mbeya, Songwe and Katavi as part of the project.

As part of the Generation Food Accelerator – a business incubator – we also specifically want to empower 400 youth to play a game-changing role in the food system by strengthening their businesses on food safety and sustainability.

Ensuring food safety practices from farm to plate

To address food safety challenges on the farm, Rikolto and its partners are training 30,000 farmers in the Southern Highlands to improve farming practices and transition to sustainable food production that is good for people, profit, and planet.

Farmers are taught on how to use fertilizer and pesticide safely and correctly as well as proper sanitation, nutrition-sensitive practices, and good food handling to ensure quality and food safety.

To date, over 10,000 farmers have been trained on sustainable practices with the support of 245 extension workers who have received training on food safety and hygiene.

Together with Agrónomos sin Fronteras, we have invested in 13 greenhouses to improve pest control and limit potential cross-contamination, as well as in 337 demonstration plots for farmers to see proper pesticide use, food handling and harvesting intervals for fresh fruits and vegetables.

The author is the Communication Officer at Rikolto in East Africa.