Print this article

Drying it right

With solar dryers, farmers can avoid postharvest losses, add value to their vegetable crops, and provide consumers with nutritious food that can be stored and consumed throughout the year.

A family solar dryer puts the sun’s rays to work to preserve the vegetable harvest.

Setting out vegetables to dry in the sun is an age-old practice, and now the World Vegetable Center is exploring ways to improve on this method of household food preservation. By using simple but effective solar dryers, farmers can do the sun one better. Solar dryers use the sun’s rays more efficiently, so food dries faster and more evenly, and retains more nutrients. Plus, the food inside the dryer is protected from dirt, dust and other contaminants.

To encourage uptake of solar dryers, WorldVeg conducted training of trainers sessions from 17 – 27 July 2017 in Tanzania. In Lushoto and Tanga districts, 123 farmers and traders were trained (78 women; 45 men), while 90 farmers were trained (49 women and 41 men) in Babati and Manyara.

During the sessions, WorldVeg trainers introduced different styles of dryers: direct, indirect, mixed, UC Davis, and Family. The focus was on the Family Dryer, which is simple and inexpensive to construct.

Each session involved three days of training. The first day covered theory; the second day was devoted to practical sessions in the field, and the third day for packaging dried produce.  Crops dried included tomato, African eggplant, onion, amaranth, African nightshade, okra, Ethiopian mustard, and carrots.

This technology was new to all participants and they received it in a positive way. All promised to construct their own solar dryers, especially farmers from the OKOA group in Magugu and Mwamboa group in Mwangoi, Lushoto.

District Agricultural and Irrigation Commission Officer Mr. Ayubu Omary and Agricultural Officer Mrs. Sophia Sheibaka were invited to close the training sessions in Boheloi village and Lushoto town. They were very happy to see the dryers and encouraged the participants to use the knowledge they gained and to share with others in the community. These and other local government officials took a great interest in the dryers, which were used to dry tomatoes, onion, pumpkin leaves and carrots for the important NANE NANE national agricultural show.

With practical methods like solar dryers, farmers can avoid postharvest losses, add value to their vegetable crops, and provide consumers with nutritious food that can be stored and consumed throughout the year.

Trainer Samweli Nassary demonstrates how to arrange tomatoes in a tray. Hygiene is important for a wholesome final product — participants wore hair nets and gloves.

Each session involved three days of training. The first day covered theory; the second day was devoted to practical sessions in the field, and the third day for packaging dried produce.  Crops dried included tomato, African eggplant, onion, amaranth, African nightshade, okra, Ethiopian mustard, and carrots.

This technology was new to all participants and they received it in a positive way. All promised to construct their own solar dryers, especially farmers from the OKOA group in Magugu and Mwamboa group in Mwangoi, Lushoto.

District Agricultural and Irrigation Commission Officer Mr. Ayubu Omary and Agricultural Officer Mrs. Sophia Sheibaka were invited to close the training sessions in Boheloi village and Lushoto town. They were very happy to see the dryers and encouraged the participants to use the knowledge they gained and to share with others in the community. These and other local government officials took a great interest in the dryers, which were used to dry tomatoes, onion, pumpkin leaves and carrots for the important NANE NANE national agricultural show.

With practical methods like solar dryers, farmers can avoid postharvest losses, add value to their vegetable crops, and provide consumers with nutritious food that can be stored and consumed throughout the year.


Story and photos: Roseline Marealle

Return to FRESH!

Roseline Marealle explains to participants how a solar dryer works.

Participants at Magugu with trainer Mary Temu demonstrating how to prepare leafy vegetables for drying.

2017-09-08T08:51:14+00:00September 8th, 2017|Categories: Articles, Eastern and Southern Africa, SEP2017|Tags: , |