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Solar Conduction Drying is a solar energy based initiative for agro-processing, leveraging local knowledge & resources, which will target to:
- Reduce food wastage
- Develop a sustainable business model for economic empowerment of farmers
- Encourage women entrepreneurship based on a Government-University-Industry-Society model.
- Solar Drying is an initiative to improve economic condition of Indian farmers by solar processing of agro-products.
This makes SCD an appropriate solution for Bottom of Pyramid (BOP) with Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode. The SCD technology has been validated at Institute of Chemical Technology, Maharashtra, India and its commercialization is in progress in Maharashtra. The technology of Solar conduction Dryer is applied for Indian patent (patent no: 740/MUM/2011) .
India produces about 50 million tons of fruits and 85 million tons of vegetables per year, but just about 2% of this goes for processing. Over 20-30% is spoiled due to improper handling and storage, and the rest of the produce is consumed in fresh form. On the other hand, due to low market value and higher losses, farmers suffer from poverty. (Source: http://agropedia.iitk.ac.in/content/post-harvest-handling-vegetables, http://www.apeda.gov.in/apedawebsite/trade_promotion/study_report/fr_veg_rep.doc)
Solar Processing of agro and marine products is a project initiated by a team of chemical, polymer, mechanical engineers from Institute of Chemical Technology, Maharashtra. Looking at economic problems of the Indian farmer community, this project targeted creation of wealth to farmers. Solar energy based food processing dehydration technologies were developed. These technologies are low cost, simple to operate and can be managed by illiterate farmers as well. Through widespread application of these technologies, value added food products can be created. Considerable losses during transport and storage can be avoided. The market for dehydrated products lies in both developing and developed countries. This multidimensional technology has potential to improve economic situation of farmers.
Pilot Plant in Progress:
With help of United Nations, a pilot plant has been setup by our team for farmers. Spreading awareness through demonstration units and efforts of team, a cooperative model with the farmers is being built. This will allow more farmers to become part of this project and bring this technology to open market.
For commercialization, women self-help groups are identified. These self-help groups buy solar dryers. Our team provides raw materials to these women, who then process various raw materials into finished dehydrated products. These products include turmeric, ginger, aamla (Indian gooseberry), leafy vegetables, mushrooms, etc. Finally, our team buys these processed products at high rate from self-help groups. The difference in price provides economic benefit to these ladies. Through its marketing channel, team sells these finished products to urban market.
Direct benefit to farmers and women in rural areas:
Solar drying of agro and marine products is a proven food-processing technology, which provides value to existing raw material. Dehydrated products get higher market value and higher profits. A summary of few cases is given in following table. The values alone interpret the potential for farmers:
- Raw Onion for making 1kg dehydrated onion: Rs. 50, Dehydrated Onion: Rs. 100/kg (Women and farmers get Rs. 50 extra)
- Raw garlic for making 1kg dehydrated garlic: Rs. 200, Dehydrated Onion: Rs. 350/kg
(Women and farmers get Rs. 150 extra)
- Raw grape for making 1kg dehydrated raisin: Rs. 80, Dehydrated Grape: Rs. 150/kg
(Women and farmers get Rs. 70 extra)
- Raw fish for making 1kg dehydrated fish: Rs. 250, Dehydrated Fish: Rs. 500/kg
(Women and farmers get Rs. 250 extra)
Both agro and marine products in dehydrated form have export potential. Hence, this project achieves dual objective of economic improvement of farmers, fishermen and national growth as well.