InnoFoodAfrica Blogs

Second Annual Meeting of the InnoFoodAfrica Consortium


Robyn Schnell, University of Pretoria

The InnoFoodAfrica Consortium began on Tuesday, the 1st of November 2022 and was hosted by the University of Pretoria. The majority of the international project partners, delegates and participants stayed at Future Africa, on the Hillcrest Campus of the University of Pretoria. Most of the Consortium’s proceedings, meetings and workshops took place at Engineering 4.0, also located on the Hillcrest Campus.

On the first day of the Consortium, the project partners and participants met at Engineering 4.0, where tea, coffee, rusks and other refreshments were served. The Consortium participants gathered in the auditorium at Engineering 4.0 at 0830, where the presentations and workshops would take place over the following days. The Project’s Coordinator, Dr Rajia Lantto, welcomed everyone and briefly spoke about some administration issues. Dr Lantto explained how the majority of the Consortium’s events would be hybrid in nature, as the participants included in person participants as well as a few participants who would join online.

The first presentation of the day was presented by Dr Peterson Obara Magutu from the University of Nairobi Enterprises and Services (UNES) Ltd. The presentation was titled, Business potential of InnoFood Africa food products – discoveries of the value chain and market survey and selected business models. Dr Magutu’s 10-minute presentation explored crop value chains, whilst focusing on discoveries of opportunities and challenges for InnoFood Africa products.

After Dr Magutu’s presentation, the participants were divided into four discussion groups, each of which focused on a particular category of IFA food products and ingredients. The discussions also focused on the possibilities of these products and ingredients as well as possible gaps that would allow these products to enter the value chains. The groups moved from the auditorium into the foyer, where they began their discussions and debates. The moderators for the discussions where Professor Mohammad Naushad Emmambux and Dr Natalia Rosa-Sibakov from VTT in Finland. Examples of the snacks and food products were provided to each group to aid in their discussion. The snacks and food product samples include composite sourdough bread, sorghum crackers, cowpea crackers, ice-cream with 50% fat replacement, sorghum pasta (enriched with phenolic), and an expanded sorghum snack.

After the group discussions, the participants moved back into the auditorium, where each of the groups’ rapporteur summarised their group’s discussion. Group A focused on ingredients. The hosts for Group A were Professor Yusuf Byaruhanga from Makerere University in Uganda and Dr Dagbjørn Skipnes from Nofima in Norway. The Group’s rapporteur was Miss Sarah Kandalo, a student from the University of Pretoria. Group B discussed pasta and expanded snacks. The host was Professor Valérie Micard from Institut Agro Montpellier in France, and the rapporteurs were students, Mr Charles Antwi from the University of Pretoria and PhD student, Pauline Pinel from Institut Agro Montpellier in France. Group C discussed quick cooking and instant food products. The group’s host was Dr Trond Løvdal from Nofima and the rapporteur was Peter Mukwevho, a student from the University of Pretoria. Group D which focused on baked products. Group D’s host was Dr Habtu Shumoy Abraha from Puratos in Belgium and the rapporteur was Mr Humbulani Nekhudshiga, another student at the University of Pretoria.

After a short tea break, where snacks and refreshments were served, Mr Nehemiah Mburu from Africa Harvest in Kenya, then provided a 10-minute presentation on business models needed to enforce food products to enter African domestic and export markets. After this presentation, the participants then broke into discussion groups to discuss the market potential for food products, and which business models would be needed for this. The moderator for this discussion was Mr Mburu.

Lunch was then served buffet style to the participants, before the afternoon session of the day began. The afternoon session focused on consumer attitudes and market potential of food products developed by the InnoFoodAfrica Project for domestic and export markets. Professor Riette De Kock of the Consumer and Food Science Department at the University of Pretoria delivered a presentation about measuring consumer attitudes towards the food product and packaging innovations developed by the InnoFoodAfrica Project. The purpose of this session is to create awareness of the project partners across the various work packages, and to improve understanding of the challenges that consumer testing presents in different African countries.

The afternoon session ended with presentations from two of the University of Pretoria’s PhD students, whose research is connected to the topics of the session. The first student to present was Ms Nomzamo Magano who presented on her study that has constructed a food choice questionnaire that would be suitable for use in Africa. The second student to present was Ms Charmaigne Sehoole, who delivered a presentation on her study which aims to use a culinary innovation process to transform the image of cowpea. Cowpea is an underutilised indigenous food crop. Ms Sehoole’s study attempts to refine the utility of cowpea and to facilitate consumer adoption.

The day ended with the InnoFoodAfrica’s Welcoming Dinner, which was held at the Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria.


The final day of the InnoFood Africa Project’s Consortium, held at the University of Pretoria, took place at Engineering 4.0 on UP’s Hillcrest campus and was on the 3rd of November 2022.

The first presentation of the day was delivered by Dr Ndegwa H. Maina and Dr Kiflemariam Yehuala Belachew, both from the University of Helsinki in Finland. Dr Maina and Dr Belachew spoke about discoveries made from the implementation of Farmer Participatory Research methods and Market Resource Centres. In addition, Dr Maina and Dr Belachew also discussed the consequences that Farmer Participatory Research and Market Resource Centres have towards value chains. In their presentation, Dr Maina and Dr Belachew explained the general outcomes of the Project’s third work package in each of the target countries, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and South Africa.

After Dr Maina and Dr Belachew’s presentation, Dr Peterson Obara Magutu from UNES in Kenya delivered his presentation which provided an introduction to Market Resource Centres. Dr Magutu is involved in work package 1 of the InnoFood Africa Project, which investigates and analyses local value chains by consumer, market and business model studies. In his presentation, Dr Magutu discussed how Market Resource Centres can enable farmers to manipulate the market and bargain for the optimal prices. Dr Magutu also explored the identification of good market opportunities that can offer farmers better pay and also reduce transaction costs and information asymmetries.

Dr Magutu’s presentation was then followed by a panel discussion which discussed questions regarding work package 3’s progress, opportunities and challenges. Examples of questions that were discussed by the panellist include: What raw materials are need for products selected for business modelling? Can such raw materials be sources from farmers who are engaged in work package 3? Are there potential stakeholders? And if so, how can those in work package 3 engage with them? If there is no contract farming, how can work package 3 assist in getting the produce to the market consistently and at a reasonable price? The panel discussion’s moderator was Dr Maina, and the panelists were as follows: Mr Nehemiah Mugutha from Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation International in Kenya, who focused on business creation for foods; Dr Belachew who spoke about the farming practices of selected crops; Dr Magutu who discussed Market Resource Centres; Professor Quenton Kritzinger from the University of Pretoria, who focused on post-harvest practices of crops; and Dr Danie Jordaan of the University of Pretoria who spoke about aspects concerning affordability.

Dr Janne Keränen, a Senior Scientist from VTT in Finland, delivered a presentation on biomaterials and their business potential. In his presentation, Dr Keränen also discussed what is needed for the creation of a biomaterial value chain, including the opportunities and challenges thereof. The research into Biobased packaging and materials that has been done by those involved with the InnoFood Africa Project fall under the Project’s fifth work package. Dr Keränen presented samples of the bio-packaging materials for the workshop’s participants to view.

After Dr Keränen’s presentation, the workshop’s participants broke into small groups for a moderated group discussion, which focused on what actions can be taken to fill the gaps in the Project as well as what the ways forward for the Project are.

The day’s workshops concluded with a student presentation by Mr Mondli Masanabo, a PHD student at the University of Pretoria. Mr Masanbo’s study also fits in the InnoFood Africa Project’s fifth work package and focuses on the development of bio-packaging materials from cowpea side stream.


More photographs taken during the meeting can be found here. ENJOY!

  • Alemu Tesfaye
    Truphena Osinde

    A very good write up.Timely will help prepare simple balanced menu using organic products.keep up the good work .

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