Notes to broadcasters
Post-harvest loss and food waste is a major problem. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that as much as 32% of food rots in farmers’ fields, is spoiled in delivery, or wasted when it not consumed or used in other ways.
Good post-harvest practices can ensure farmers make the most of their harvest. By drying fruits and vegetables, farmers can store their harvest longer—for up to a year. Dried fruits and vegetables also earn farmers more money, as they can be sold for a higher price when fresh fruits and vegetables are no longer available in the market. They also help families eat a varied diet throughout the year.
In this script, we speak with Ngoni Nenguwo, a post-harvest specialist at the World Vegetable Center, about how to dry vegetables—and how a solar dryer makes this practice quicker and safer. It keeps dust, debris, and pests away from the product. And a solar dryer can get 15 to 35 degrees hotter than the outside temperature, meaning fruit and vegetable slices dry much quicker.
We also hear from the chairwoman and the manager of the Kilimanjaro Natural Foods Cooperative. Members of this co-operative make a good income selling dried fruits and vegetables to grocery stores, hotels, and tourism companies in northern Tanzania.
You might choose to present this script as part of your regular farming program, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.
You could also use the script as research material or inspiration for creating your own programming on solar dryers. Visit farmer groups or co-operatives in your area that have a solar dryer. You might ask them:
– How did they build the solar dryer?
– What fruits or vegetables are they drying? How do they prepare the product before drying it?
– Why are they drying fruits or vegetables? Do they sell them? Or simply store them for later use?
You could also ask your listeners to discuss how they process fruits and vegetables to consume weeks or months after harvest. This could be the topic of a phone-in or text-in program.
Estimated running time for the script: 20 minutes, with intro and outro music.
We know that vegetables are important for a healthy diet. Not just because they add colour to our meal. But green leafy vegetables, or carrots, or tomatoes—they are all nutritious. They have important vitamins and minerals.
But how can you eat vegetables all year round if there is only one growing season? Even if you can grow vegetables year-round, it can be difficult to store them for very long after harvest.
Well, in many areas of Tanzania, and elsewhere across Africa, farmers dry their vegetables. Dried vegetables can be stored longer—and as I learned, they are easy to cook with.
So how do you dry vegetables? I learned that there are several important techniques for making the most delicious dried vegetables. And there’s an interesting technology to dry vegetables faster and more safely: solar dryers. Stay tuned as I talk to farmers in northern Tanzania about solar drying.
MUSIC, THEN FADE UNDER HOST
Hello. Thank you for meeting with me.
In Singida, Dodoma, and the central regions of Tanzania—where it’s drier—it’s more popular to dry vegetables. In Arusha and the northern regions, drying is less popular because fruits and vegetables can be grown throughout the year. But as people move to different regions and take their traditional recipes with them, more people across the country are drying vegetables.
And there are some groups in this area who are drying fruits and vegetables to sell. Kilimanjaro Natural Foods Cooperative in Moshi is one group doing this.
Dried vegetables can help remedy that. They can be stored for months—even up to a year—and then used in the same way as fresh vegetables.
What’s important is blanching the vegetables before you dry them.
But blanching is not for tomatoes or eggplant. For tomatoes, just cut, add salt, and then put them into the dryer. For eggplant, cut, soak in lime juice for five minutes, and then into the dryer.
Jute mallow is also not blanched.
Cover all sides of the box with transparent plastic sheeting to let in the sun’s rays. The bottom of the box is metal sheeting to reflect the heat back up inside the box. There is a vent on the sides of the box that is covered with mesh screen to allow air to circulate. It is very important for air to circulate in the dryer, which is why we use screen on the sides. The dryer also has a door or opening for loading and unloading the drying trays.
These trays should slide in to the dryer. They are made from screen stretched over a wooden frame. It is also good if they slant a little upwards towards the door, as that will help the air circulate.
This is a direct solar dryer. There are other kinds, but this is the simplest to build.
I will see this type of solar dryer later at the Kilimanjaro Natural Foods Cooperative. While the direct solar dryer is the simplest to build—it is still expensive. In Tanzania, it costs about $400 US to have a solar dryer made.
With a solar dryer, farmers can more quickly dry vegetables to store for later use.
Farmers can also earn more by selling dried vegetables when fresh ones are not available in the market. The farmers at the Kilimanjaro Natural Foods Cooperative dry fruit and vegetables to sell to grocery stores, hotels, and other tourism companies in northern Tanzania, where safaris are popular. Stay tuned, as next I will speak to them about just how profitable it is to build and use a solar dryer.
I meet with Njarita Mbaga, the manager of the co-operative, and Albina Mkiwara, the chairwoman.
You peel the mango with a sharp knife and slice it into small pieces, like chips. Then put it on the trays and push them into the solar dryer. It can take three to four days when the sun is strong. You should check the moisture content to know when it is done.
It’s the same process for pineapple and banana.
To process anything, you have to be clean. We wear white coats and caps. We clean utensils—like knives— with soap. You must use soap. It is also important to cut your nails, not have any skin wounds or bandages, and cover your hair.
The trays and the dryer should be clean. And you should always wash the product before processing.
When the product is dry, the farmers put it in a container and bring it to the co-operative. We put them into bags to be sold.
Mrs. Mkiwara: Yes. They can buy the materials from the co-operative. It’s a bit expensive. About eight hundred thousand to one million Tanzanian shillings for a big, double dryer [$350-440 US]. About 75% of the cost is the wood.
The reward is that these women make enough income to send their children to school and assist their husbands with supporting the family.
MUSIC UP, FADE UNDER HOST, THEN UP, HOLD. AND OUT.
Drying vegetables is a good practice if you can’t buy fresh vegetables throughout the year. And you can earn a good profit selling dried fruits and vegetables as well.
Thanks for tuning in.
Contributed by: Kathryn Burnham, Barza Wire Advisor, Farm Radio International
Reviewed by: Ngoni Nenguwo, post-harvest specialist, World Vegetable Center
Ngoni Nenguwo, post-harvest specialist, World Vegetable Center, Dec. 14, 2016
Njarita Mbaga, manager, Kilimanjaro Natural Foods Cooperative, Dec. 20, 2016
Albina Mkiwara, chairwoman, Kilimanjaro Natural Foods Cooperative, Dec. 20, 2016
Project undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada (GAC)