Mavis Owureku-Asare has been working as a Food Scientist for several years now and has a wealth of experience in product development and post-harvest management of fruits and vegetables. Her current research focuses on providing solar dehydration technology to African women, especially in Ghana, that can be employed right at the farm level and in homes to preserve tomato. As an African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) fellow, her research is gender responsive and focused on promoting practical agricultural technologies and solutions, which will benefit farmers and improve livelihoods of women in Ghana and throughout West Africa. The findings generated from her PhD research will help enable the design of sustainable solutions that can be replicated to help reduce post-harvest losses and enhance the tomato value chain.
Tomato production is mainly a smallholder farmer activity in Ghana. At the peak of the harvest season, farmers lose about 20-50% of produce due to the lack of adequate processing facilities and that can result in severe price fluctuations. Mavis has observed that attempts to solve the problem of seasonal gluts and scarcity through commercial processing have not been successful and would like to work to be a part of the solution. Improving domestic tomato processing would both absorb excess supply and strengthen the value chain. It would also reduce the country’s dependence on imported tomato paste and provide employment opportunities. Mavis believes that if food security is to become a reality in Africa, there is the need for a new generation of African agricultural leaders, including highly skilled, well-positioned women who can influence emerging research. Her wish is to see a more vibrant food industry that meet the nutritional need of Ghanaians. As an emerging leader in the field of food and Agriculture, her leadership drive is commendable. Through her company Kasmalink Consult, Mavis works with women entrepreneurs to position and stimulate local demand for their products. She believes that given the chance and support, women can contribute substantially to the development of the food processing industry in Ghana. She serves as a volunteer for Moringa Community of Ghana, an NGO in the Central region of Ghana, which trains women in food processing techniques. She is also the Innovations and Impact Coordinator of the 4H club in Ghana which promotes a sustainable school feeding program through the Enterprise garden projects in first and second cycle schools.
As a Borlaug LEAP Fellow, Mavis worked with Dr. Kingsly Ambrose, an agricultural engineer with expertise in cereal grain drying at Purdue University. Through Dr. Ambrose's involvement with USAID’s Feed the Future Innovation Lab on Post-Harvest Loss reduction, he is co-leading an effort to develop optimized solar dryer designs for Ghana. Dr. Busie Maziya-Dixon, Mavis' CGIAR mentor, is an experienced food scientist from International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Nigeria has wealth of experience working on product development of various agricultural produce and he offered expert technical assistance for her research work. Mavis expects to complete her PhD in 2017.