Solar Drying Introduction 15 minute talk
Good Morning, my name is Elyse Petersen and I am a Peace Corps Volunteer working here in Antigua and Barbuda with the Agro-processors Association. As a trained food scientist I am tasked during my 6 month assignment to assess the food preservation situation here and provide technical assistance that will help develop agriculture, agro-processing, and nutrition here in Antigua and Barbuda. From my observations so far, I see that Antigua and Barbuda have tremendous potential to grow fruits and vegetables and catch fish. We are in the tropics, but there are only a few preservation methods available to maintain the supply of seasonal produce throughout the year. This problem has traditionally caused the country to suffer from glut, or over production of produce that can’t be consumed, therefore going to waste. From my work with the pepper sauce, jam, jelly, guava cheese, and other processors on the island I see that there is great potential to utilize the sun to process these produce.
With the help of a group of students from Kansas State University a solar dryer has been developed specifically for Antigua and Barbuda which can be constructed with local materials for minimal cost, between $150 to $250 EC. To kick start the introduction of these solar dryers I have been working with the Ministry of Education to integrate these dryers into the school curriculum, currently involving the Industrial Arts, Agriculture Science, and Home Economics departments. Six dryers have been constructed at various secondary schools on the island which will be used to process surplus fruits and vegetables from the schools’ garden. One of the dryers has been constructed at Barbuda’s High School with the gracious sponsorship from Barbuda Express to help transport resources to the sister island. With the help of the Inter-American Institute for the Cooperation of Agriculture we have held 2 workshops with agro-processors and home economics teachers to display the principles of solar drying and the specifics of the dryers that have been built at the schools.
If processed properly, fruits such as mango can be stored and eaten for up to a year after processing. Mango isn’t all these dryers can process, it also can be used for pawpaw, banana, carrots, tomato, peppers, fish, and even meat. These products do not require refrigeration and can be eaten as is or put into other recipes such as cakes, breads, trail mix, and ice cream. Really, what this means is, we can be eating local mango in February; mango from your own trees. The dryers that were built at the secondary schools are intended more for commercial use, but I have designed a smaller version of the dryer which requires less material that is ideal for home use. The dryer is designed from a wooden frame which is covered in plastic, which allows the sun’s rays to hit the food and at the same time insulate the solar heat. This increase in temperature in the dryer plays a key role in altering the humidity of the air and quickly drying out the food. I highly suggest that farmers, agro-processors, fishermen, and anyone with many fruit trees in their yard consider getting a solar dryer.
We will be holding a workshop in Barbuda in the next few weeks where we will be drying some produce and talking about the benefits of solar drying. I see that there is great potential for these dryers in Barbuda because they are a very good and safe alternative to corning fish. In the meantime everyone is invited to visit and join the Facebook group that has been created for this project where I have posted pictures and other valuable information about solar drying in Antigua and Barbuda. You can find the group by google or facebook searching “Solar drying in Antigua” Here is the link:
Donors: BRITTANY GALLAGHER, TRAVIS MASSAR, CRISTEN BATES, SHAUN PEAHU, MARIAH Z COSAND, JOSEPH BRACCIO, ANDREW MARINELLI, ALISA JEFFREY, CHRISTIE N LEDEKER, SIRIORN HAWORTH, JAMIE PREUSS, NATALIE HINDS, KIM CAMERON, MARY PETERSEN, EMILY DUFTON, JEN SCHULZ, KHOI HUYNH, MARTIN F. SANCHO-MADRIZ, MARY PETERSEN
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