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Solar Dryers: This Method Extends Shelf Life of Tomatoes, Grapes, Onion

Solar dryers are utilized to reduce the moisture content in fruits and vegetables, thereby enhancing their shelf-life.

Shivangi Rai
Implementation of solar dryers proved to be a game-changer for the farmers. (Image Courtesy- Pexels)
Implementation of solar dryers proved to be a game-changer for the farmers. (Image Courtesy- Pexels)

Over the past year, farmer-members of Sahyadri Farms FPC in Nashik successfully utilized solar dryers to process their produce.

They produced five tonnes of raisins from fresh grapes, two tonnes of dry tomato strips, and ten tonnes of dry onion using this eco-friendly technology. The implementation of solar dryers proved to be a game-changer for the farmers, shielding them from price fluctuations and enabling consumers to access the produce even during periods of soaring prices for fresh items.

Solar dryers function by harnessing heat within the system to evaporate moisture from fruits and vegetables, thereby extending their shelf-life. This innovative approach not only increased the value of the produce but also significantly reduced post-harvest wastage. As a result, more farmers are now eager to adopt this technology, seeking to benefit both themselves and consumers.

The pilot solar project carried out in collaboration with Sustain Plus (a Tata Trust initiative), played a crucial role in this success. With the installation of 20 solar dryers of 500 kg capacity, financed mainly by Sustain Plus with 65% support per dryer (approximately ₹20 lakh), and the remaining 35% contributed by the farmers themselves, the project demonstrated its effectiveness.

Raheja Solar Food Processing Private Limited took charge of installing solar dryers in Nashik and conducted training sessions for the farmers, imparting them with the necessary knowledge and skills. The outcome was evident as Mahendra Surwade, a farmer from Dindori in Nashik, reaped impressive returns by producing high-quality raisins with the help of solar dryers. The newfound capability to add value to his products not only fetched him better prices in the market but also opened up a new source of income.

This successful venture has reaffirmed the importance of offering farmers both fresh marketing and processing options, providing them with increased flexibility to navigate the agricultural market and enhance their livelihoods.

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