Effect of sun drying on microbes in non-conventional agricultural by-products
There is concern whether cabbage and beetroot wastes from the Fresh Produce Market are safe for feeding animals given the fact that some will have been discarded at the onset of putrefaction. This study evaluated the effects of sun-drying on microbiological load (E. coli, coliform, yeast and moulds and total bacterial count) in waste vegetables from the fresh produce market, since smallholder farmers tend to use the by-products without processing given the opportunity. Cabbage and beetroot wastes were sun dried to 14% moisture and micro-organisms were enumerated on both wet and dried samples. The results showed that sun drying reduced the level of micro-organisms significantly in both cabbage and beetroot. Although microbial load varied from batch to batch in the wet samples, coliforms were significantly more abundant in wet beetroot than in the dried samples. However, dried beetroot contained significantly more yeast and moulds. Wet cabbage contained more coliform and yeast and moulds compared to sun-dried cabbage. The sun drying process is thus an efficient processing method for resource poor farmers to reduce the microbial load in these animal feed sources and improve their shelf life.
Keywords: Cabbage and beetroot waste, alternative feeds, coliforms, yeasts, moulds and sun drying