Drying their best
In Manyara, Arusha, Kilimanjaro and Tanga regions of Tanzania, WorldVeg is working with local communities to build family solar dryers for vegetables. The work, supported by the Amsterdam Initiative Against Malnutrition (AIM), provides people with the means to process vegetables for later use—and to explore the production of new food products to extend the vegetable value chain.
Postharvest Researcher Roman Fortunatus coordinated the construction of eight small-size family solar dryers and one medium-size dryer in Babati, Moshi, Arumeru, Lushoto, and Magugu.
Although the temperature in the solar dryers varied depending on local climatic conditions, in general, all the dryers provided an atmosphere 15 to 35 °C higher than the ambient temperature. “The dryers also provide lower relative humidity compared to the environment,” Roman said. Reducing moisture is an important step in preventing spoilage of dried vegetables.
Farmers were quick to see the benefits the dryers offered. “This technology is the best, since it will allow us to process produce from our 2-hectare vegetable farm,” said the head teacher of Mwereni primary school in Moshi.
A farmers’ group in Magugu highlighted the business opportunities the dryers have opened up: “We plan to dry and develop different products and sell them,” said a representative of the group. “We’re looking forward to participating in the training on how to use the dryer.”
Training will be held in each of the areas in August 2017, with an emphasis on developing dried vegetable products for local markets.
Story and photos: Roman Fortunatus