What is a Solar Dryer?
The practice of placing fruits and vegetables under the sun for drying is a part of Pakistani tradition. The problem arises in the fact that there are a range of hazards that could occur by drying fruits and vegetables without the proper tools and previsions. Therefore, in order to avoid these hazards, the concept of collecting solar heat and using it for food drying has received increasing attention in recent years.
By building on its expertise acquired from working in Bangladesh and Uganda, JOBS, designed and manufactured Solar Drying Units (SDUs). SDUs utilize “Indirect heating dryers“, which dries the food by collecting air through a “Solar Collector“. This solid metal surface absorbs the heat from the sun and uses this heat to warm the air flowing into the SDU. The food is then placed inside the SDU which has proper air circulation, and built to withstand the elements of natural as well as keep out any insects. SDUs are not only effective in their ease of production quantity, but they are clean and hygienic.
What are the Benefits of Food Processing?
JOBS Trust is engaged in the provision of home-based and culturally conscious income generating opportunities that makes beneficiaries self-reliant through skills development and entrepreneurship training. JOBS Trust recognized the need for an efficient, hygienic and economically viable mechanism to collect solar heat and use it for food drying. Therefore, the team designed, manufactured and distributed the SDUs as an engine of economic growth, but also to avoid the range of hazards that occur through untrained solar drying. The benefits which have arisen since the distribution of the SDUs include, but are not limited to, those stated below:
Reduction of Post-Harvest Loss
It is estimated that more than 30% of agricultural produce is wasted solely due to the lack of efficient food-processing techniques. Knowledge of low capital-intensive “green” methods, such as employing solar driers to process food, would enable individuals and households to save their produce.
Enhancement of Food Security
Basic food processing and food preservation prolongs the shelf life of perishable produce, reduces post-harvest losses and increases food security, which can easily be implemented at the individual or household level. This enabled producers to have increased access to food for consumption or trade.
Generation of Employment
Throughout Pakistan, it is a common sight to witness groups of women walking for miles with tons of agricultural produce delicately balances on their heads. The introduction of basic food processing methods empowers these individuals to engage in alternative income-generating activities which are neither capital-intensive nor physically demanding.