Team Members: Dr. Robinah Kulabako (Team Leader), Dr. Philip Nyenje, Mr. Swaib Semiyaga, Mr. Mohammed Ssemwanga.
The need: Majority of rural farmers rely on sun drying of seed produce before it is ready for the market. Sun drying covers a broad range of grain, ranging from cereals to legume seeds, however, increased uptake of modern methods of farming in rural Africa has also led to a modest rise in the demand for Direct Solar Dryers (DSD), to dry and preserve farm produce. Current technologies face many limitations which include; the need for more time and space to dry bulk agricultural produce, being labor intensive, and limited to a narrow range of agricultural products. They are also not sufficient for drying more delicate and rapidly perishable products like fruits, plantains and mushrooms.
The Innovation: RAPID is based on the idea of concentrating more solar energy in a controlled environment to achieve faster and efficient drying of a wide range of agricultural produce using locally available and cheap materials. The technology harnesses and concentrates solar energy using reflectors to quicken and improve the drying process. Reflective panels (concave mirrors), are placed at an appropriate solar angle and direction in order to concentrate extra solar radiation thereby providing extra solar heat to the system. The panels are adjustable so as to be positioned according to the sun’s strength and movement, while offsetting excessive solar heat and prohibiting over-drying.
The Impact: Rapid Agricultural Produce Indirect Dryer technology will markedly increase the efficiency of solar produce-drying at a low cost and minimize post-harvest losses, reduce farm-to-shelf time, reduce contamination with aflatoxin. During community engagement, end users appreciated the ability of this technology to dry their produce in the shortest time possible. The Innovators have interacted with approximately 25 farmers in an effort to refine their prototype.
Dr. Robinah Kulabako presenting about the Solar Dryer at one of the RAN Innovation Garages