Solar drying can reduce fruit and vegetable losses and increase availability for farmers who produce surplus but lack storage. While traditional sun drying in Nepal uses bamboo (e.g. supo), improved solar dryers like the chimney dryer are more efficient and hygienic. This project assessed if the chimney dryer is an appropriate and beneficial technology for reducing food loss to disseminate to farmers, especially women, in Dadeldhura district, Nepal. In this study, appropriate was defined as relevant, affordable, locally available, and user-friendly, while benefits were assessed in terms of food availability, quality and safety; time and labor; and income.
Using a convergent mixed methods approach, I constructed three chimney dryers, conducted focus group discussions, key informant interviews, and workshops; made observations in the community; and carried out two experiments to quantitatively compare different drying methods. Qualitative data collection around social impact was guided by the Integrating Gender and Nutrition within Agricultural Extension Services (INGENAES) Gender Technology Assessment.
I found that the chimney dryer was faster, more protected and hygienic, and preserved quality better than sun drying. While the dryer is relatively easy to use, it may require skilled labor to construct, and the design and size can be adapted based on user preference. Although local materials are affordable, any cost may discourage farmer adoption; so, in the future, the technology can be made more affordable through multiple households pooling their resources and sharing a dryer, or through government subsidies.
Because drying is a relatively passive activity with little active time or labor, food safety and nutrition advantages may actually be more important than time saved. However, faster drying is still important for reduced spoilage, which can ultimately save labor and increase food safety and availability. Women will likely gain more than men from reduced time and workload, though concerted efforts will be required to ensure gender equity in value chain development for dried foods. Moreover, because farmers already know how to dry, the entire “dry chain,” including the DryCard™ to measure dryness and moisture-proof storage, should be promoted to prevent spoilage and mycotoxin development.
|Commitee:||Crump, Amanda, Mitcham, Elizabeth|
|School:||University of California, Davis|
|Department:||International Agricultural Development|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||MAI 81/4(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Agriculture, Horticulture, Gender studies|
|Keywords:||Fruits and vegetables, Gender equity, International agricultural development, Postharvest, Solar drying, Technology adoption|
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