Dealing with the fruit glut
Fruits are sources of many essential nutrients, including potassium, dietary fibre, vitamin C and folate (folic acidic). The health benefits of eating fruits are so enormous
benefit the body immensely as they are natural sources of vitamins and minerals which are essential for the proper functioning of the body.
Rich in dietary fibre, fruits also help to improve the functioning of the digestive tract. Fruits are an important part of a healthy diet for those who want to lose weight; they give ample energy and nearly every nutrient that the body needs to curb weight gain without adding any unnecessary fats.
Fruits help us stay away from health complications such as heatstroke, high blood pressure, cancer, heart ailments and diabetes. Fruits effectively fight skin disorders and promote healthy hair growth. It is always suggested that one eats raw, fresh and ripe fruits because then one will be able to experience the real health benefits, rather than consuming them after processing or cooking. (www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruits).
So with all these benefits, why do we downplay or simply exclude fruits from our diets? People assume fruits are expensive and, therefore, the preserve of the rich in the society, especially in Ghana. This is far from the truth.
Ghana is blessed with very arable lands that support all types of crops and plants. Most of the tropical fruits such as banana, orange, mango, pawpaw, pineapple, watermelon and sour sop have always flooded our markets during their peak seasons. It, therefore, saddens my heart when I walk past the market and see these fruits heaped on the ground or on tables rotting away while the sellers look on helplessly.
What can be done in the interim as we seek the appropriate technology for processing fruits or ensure that they remain in their natural state for a longer period?
We can adopt a situation where, as part of the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) or even as a deliberate social intervention policy, especially for government basic schools in the urban centres, anytime there is a glut of a particular fruit, it should be served in addition to the meal; if not on a daily basis, at least once a week or something in order to soak the glut into usefulness.
Second, families should be encouraged to ensure that at least, they provide some fruits for their households on a regular basis as a way of inculcating the habit of consuming fruits for living.
The most permanent solution of course to bridge this gap between the glut and consumption is agro-processing. Unfortunately, it appears we lack the appropriate technology to embark on massive processing that can help us keep such perishable fruits for longer periods without preservatives or into concentrates. This is an avenue for potential research and investors anyway.
These practices will undoubtedly, and to a large extent, reduce or solve the problem we always have to grapple with in times of gluts.
Let the mantra be: “Eat fruits for a healthy life. ”