Lack of storage facilities coupled with the lack of technologies for value addition to the vegetable production for the farmers of Semiliguda, a block known for its vegetable cultivation, in Koraput, Odisha, is causing grave concerns. During the post-rainy season, these farmers become vulnerable to the fluctuating vegetable prices leading to income losses.
In order to build resilience, low-cost solar dryers have been introduced in project villages by the World Vegetable Center, a consortium partner, in the ongoing ICRISAT-led project funded by Odisha Livelihood Mission (OLM). The dryer was introduced with Maa Mangala self-help Group (SHG) group in Pungar village. The members of the group were trained to maintain and operate these solar dryers. Because of the increase in demand, second dryer was installed for the same SHG.
This solar dryer dries the vegetables at temperatures below 60oC, thus preserving the colour, flavour and nutrient value of the vegetables. It was found most suited for drying tomato, mango, ginger and turmeric.
The dryer reduced the risk of highly fluctuating market price in tomato farming. In semiliguda, tomato price fluctuates between ₹ 5 to ₹ 50 per kg, however, the cost of dried tomato slices remains relatively stable between ₹ 40 to ₹ 60 per kg. (1 kg fresh tomato can produce approximately 220 gm of dried slices). It takes about
4-5 days for tomato to dry with these solar dryers in Semiliguda. The time required for drying depends on the solar radiation available and may vary with change of season or location.
On seeing the great potential and the ease of use, five more SHGs – Maa Gangamaa (Rajput), Maa Sarala (Pitaguda), Maa Santi (Sriramput), Salmi, Kapilaswar and Maa Tarani (Aligaon) – expressed their interest for solar dryers.