Market vendors to process and preserve food

As tough economic times impact Vanuatu, a food preservation training course has given local vendors new skills to preserve garden foods.

The training is helping vendors to make use of food they can’t sell at market and to preserve food for use during disasters like cyclones, when gardens and crops are destroyed.

The participants learnt how to make cassava, banana and taro flour; preserve meat, fruits like pawpaw, and vegetables such as tomato and chillies; and how to pack and label their processed products.

One of the vendors, Annie Meleray from Nambahuk community in South Santo, says, “In a future disaster, I know that I will have enough food preserved for my family.”

Mrs Meleray says she is now able to preserve vegetables and root crops that she brings back from the market because she could not sell them all.

“Now I know how to preserve and package tomatoes, chilli, pawpaw and pineapple; and how to make a cake from manioc flour,” she says.

“Before, I could only preserve unsold peanuts that could be used for replanting, so sometimes bananas and cassava that I brought home were wasted.”

She says her new preserving skills are especially important at the moment.

Comparing her sales before and after COVID-19 and Cyclone Harold, Mrs Meleray says she’s noticed she sold-off more of her products before the cyclone and COVID, than she is currently doing.

“I am now seeing that many of my products are coming home because people don’t buy as much from the market anymore,” she said.

Obed Ruben, another vendor who is from West Coast Santo, moved to the Beleru community in South Santo because he says it was hard for him to make money on the West Coast.

He says it is easier for him to make money at Beleru because it is close to Santo’s largest town, Luganville.

Mr Ruben says this was his first food preservation training and what he has learned from the workshop will help his family during the COVID pandemic and in any future cyclones.

Lissy Andicar, a young market vendor from Nambahuk community in South Santo, says processing food will help her make more money.

“If we process our market products we can make more money than by just selling raw root crops, vegetables and fruits at the market,” she said.

The food preservation training is part of the United Nation’s Markets for Change Project and is supported by the UN’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.

The training aims to help, mainly rural women, to build food security for their families during the COVID-19 pandemic and improve their access to financial services.

On Santo, market vendors from the Nambahuk, Beleru, Jarailan, Narango Sarete, Tangoa and Fanfo Stonhill communities and on Tangoa Island have been offered the training.

On Efate, vendors from Melemaat have participated.

Mrs Meleray says the vendors in her community also need the management training which will be offered by the program in the future, as they need to be able to better manage finances in difficult times.

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