Using solar waves to dry fruits in Mpeketoni

About 40 per cent of fruits grown in Mpeketoni, Lamu County’s food basket, go to waste during the peak season due to over production and low prices, reducing incomes of small holder farmers.

World Concern through the Government of Kenya’s Njaa Marufuku programme is addressing this challenge using a unique, innovative and inexpensive technology.

We facilitated a group of 18 farmers to dry mango fruits using solar energy.

Members of solar drier group pose for photo
Members of Solar Dryer group pose for photo

The technology which was first introduced in the country by German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) uses solar panel, battery and greenhouse-like polythene paper called solar film to capture solar waves for drying fruits. Solar heat is harnessed by a solar panel and transmitted by fans as solar waves through a dryer enclosed with solar film.

Mango farmers 6

Mango farmers 7
Section of dryer layout when in use.

Using this innovative technology, World Concern is helping improve incomes of small holder farmers through production of dried fruit snacks for sale. We are also cushioning them from perennial losses arising from lack of ready market and other post-harvest losses.

“We can store mangoes for a longer time and buy plenty of them from our farmers,” said Macharia, Mpeketoni Solar Dryer Group’s secretary. This way, the group will boost incomes of about 500 mango farmers in the area. “We hope to package the dried fruits for sale as a way of adding value,” he added.

Though the project focus was solely mango fruit, the group has gone ahead to dry other fruits and vegetables. “We’re now using the machine to dry tomatoes, sukuma wiki (kales) and cowpeas leaves at the moment,” said the chairman, Mr Geoffrey Mburu.

Mango farmers-3
Returning tomatoes tray to the dryer. Looking on (3rd left) is Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme (ASDSP) Value Chain Officer, Mr Munyao.

In this project, World Concern is training farmers on financial management and entrepreneurship, assisting them to set up operations as well as attaining relevant certifications.

One of the group members, Mzee Ndenge, showing where kales are dried in the drier
One of the group members, Mzee Ndenge, showing kales drying

Soon, Mpeketoni Solar Drier Self Help group will venture fully into the mango drying enterprise given their high fruit volumes, market demand and nutritious value of the fruit.

“We look forward to building a big business,” said Macharia.