It has been estimated that 20-30% food grains, 30-50% vegetables, herbs and fruits are lost right on farm before they reach the markets and final consumers. Post harvest loss of tubers, grains, vegetables, spices, fruits and herbs as well as fish and meat can be reduced by drying.
Farmers income, food safety, food security and food availability will be greatly improved with proper drying of perishable food items.
Solar drying remains the most viable, cost-effective and safe method of drying and preserving food items for proper storage.
It is more hygienic and efficient than traditional open sun drying.
Solar dryer shields food items from dust, insects, birds, roaming pests and microbial contamination.
Solar drying employs natural convection, forced ventilation, solar radiation (from sun) and greenhouse effect for effective drying. Moreover, heater/burner can be added to a solar dryer to improve drying efficiency when solar radiation (sunlight) is low.
More importantly, solar drying preserves nutrients, taste and colour than other forms of drying. Overall, Solar drying prevents spoilage, improves product hygiene, storability, availability, marketing and profitability.
Produces that can be solar dried are but not limited to; Moringa leaves, Chilli pepper, Okra, Ugu leaves, Melon, Thyme, Coriander, Stevia, Tea, Curry, Basil, lemon grass, Garlic, Ginger, Tumeric, Herbs, Spices, Crayfish, Melon, Cassava chips, Yam chips, Potatoes chips, Plantain chips, Banana slices, Bitter leaves, Hibiscus flowers (Zobo), Utazi, Melon, Mango slices, Black pepper, Coffee, Cocoa beans, Maize, Fish, meats, livestock feed etc.
Types of Solar Dryer
Basically, we have Passive Solar Dryer (PSD) and Hybrid Solar Dryer (HSD). PSD uses only solar radiation (from sun) and natural ventilation for drying materials. It has small drying capacity while HSD uses solar radiation (from sun), forced ventilation (heat extraction fans/Blowers) and external heating sources for drying materials. It has bigger drying capacity.
Solar dryer can also be classified according to shape and they include Solar Tent Dryer, Solar Box dryer, Solar Cabinet Dryer, Solar Tunnel dryer, Solar Greenhouse Dryer, etc.
Contact Kaspharyn Solutions, Nigeria for Standard Solar Dryer Construction and Consultancy