VI Development of appropriate technologies
20. The preparation of food by the side of the road and holding it over a period of time has several key elements in purely technological terms. Besides the traditional technologies used in food preparation there are other technologies which have a bearing on food safety and sale value. These include storage of potable water, utensils for cooking, storage and sale, the means of heating or cooling and the source of energy for the same, the design of stalls and push-carts, the wrapping and packing applied to food, the means of serving the food, the means of cleaning and the facilities for waste disposal, and the provision of toilet facilities. Even slight improvements in any one of these would go a long way toward better serving the needs of millions of people who depend upon street foods, whether as vendors or consumers. The meeting felt that it was rather unfortunate that relatively little had been done in a concerted manner to develop appropriate technologies to serve this immense informal food sector. This deserved more attention taking into consideration the local environment and the needs and expectations of the vendors. New technologies would need to be simple, cost effective and practical.
21. The meeting noted that in a few instances remarkable advances had been achieved by relocating or concentrating street food vending into specially designed centres with all the necessary services such as a potable water and electricity supply, adequate waste disposal services and toilet facilities. In some instances even heating and freezing facilities, under supervision of health authorities, had been provided for use with high risk foods. In the majority of cases however, such facilities were not available, or even planned in the near future. The cost of establishment of and relocation of vendors to such a centre is high.
22. Street food vending involves a lot of manual labour, low levels of technology, minimum capital investment and limited knowledge of hygiene and sanitation. The itinerant vendor has simply transferred his or her experience from home preparation of food to the preparation on the street. The differences are that quantities are larger, storage of food is over a longer period of time and there are many more consumers. There is a need for technical institutions to "industrialize" local food processing patterns and systems in a way which is capable of being managed by the food vendor.
23. The meeting was of the opinion that certain key technical institutions in different regions of the world might be encouraged to take a direct interest in the development of appropriate technologies for the street food sector. Experience gained ova the past couple of decades in this area should be evaluated with respect to the impact of various factors on food safety as well as on acceptability to vendors and consumers within the local physical and socio-cultural environment. This would assist in identifying further actions that might be initiated. NGOs could play a key role in this area of development. Exchange of information on a TCDC* basis should be encouraged so as to quicken the pace of development.
* TCDC is a programme of Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries.