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The level of interest in small-scale food processing in developing countries has increased dramatically in recent years. It is due in part to the promotion of income-generating activities to help increase incomes and employment in rural areas, and also in part to the success of agricultural development programmes in some countries which have produced food surpluses then requiring preservation and processing.

As a result there has been a corresponding upsurge in enquiries about food processing, and especially about the availability of low cost, small scale equipment and where it can be found.

In response to this need, ITDG began in 1989 to produce this guide. It is based on the highly successful Tools for Agriculture guide which was first published in 1965, updated in 1985 and now re-published as a companion volume to Small-Scale Food Processing.

One difference between agricultural processes and food processing is the much longer time intervals between different stages of production in agriculture. For example, there may be several months between the stages of ploughing, weeding and harvesting. In food processing the intervals between stages (or unit operations) in a process is much shorter, often a few minutes or hours. It is therefore necessary to select equipment for a particular stage that has a similar throughput to other pieces of equipment used in stages that precede and follow it. Delays in the process may otherwise be caused by one piece of equipment that is too small, and food may consequently spoil.

In food processing it is therefore necessary to look at the whole process when deciding on the equipment required, and for this reason we have included in the first part of this book chapters that describe the stages and equipment needed to process selected foods in each commodity group. The second part catalogues the different sizes and types of equipment.

The selection of equipment to be included in the catalogue section was not easy and we make no claim to be comprehensive. The overriding principle was that the equipment should be suitable for low or medium-income producers in developing countries. So you will not find the complex, automatic, continuous equipment used by high-technology food processors in industrialized countries.

However, the scale of production required by small producers and the availability of services (electricity, clean water, gas, servicing and maintenance facilities etc.) will obviously vary in different countries and between regions of the same country. Similarly the amount of money available to invest will also vary considerably. We have therefore included, wherever possible, a range of equipment from simple hand-operated tools which are often suitable for local manufacture, through to larger factory-produced machines that require the above services, but are still small-scale by industrial standards.

One of our main aims has been to include equipment manufactured in developing countries to promote direct South-to-South trade relations. It should be noted that the response to our request for information was overwhelming from manufacturers in India, but elsewhere it was modest, particularly from African countries. We would be grateful to hear from manufacturers who are not included in the guide in order to improve our database for future editions.

We hope that this first edition of Small-Scale Food Processing will form a useful addition to the relatively limited information available on the subject and serve its purpose as a tool to assist the improvement in peoples' livelihoods throughout the developing world.


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