Livestock and Dehydrators
One of the main goals of a solar dryer is to dry food for human consumption. However that is not all that it can be used for. In Uganda Dr. Jolly is using a solar dryer to dehydrate molasses feed blocks that she makes by hand and then feeds to her cows on the demonstration farm. If a farmer had the ability to create and dry such blocks (which would greatly improve the health and therefore the value of their animals), the farmer would also be able to sell such block to other farmers, tapping into another revenue source.
Another way that the solar dryer can be used is to dry animal dung, specifically cow dung. In many urban areas of Kampala Uganda (pop. ~1.2 Mil.) there are cattle, but no trees to use as fuel for cooking. So sun dried cow dung is collected and used as fuel. A solar dryer that works quickly, is palletized and easily assembled would make it possible for a family to collect and dry fuel for themselves, but also enough for them to sell to others too.
Technology in Agriculture
Picture a scenario where a farmer in central Uganda is able to search for ideas by visiting our website and learning which crops are most successfully being dehydrated by other farmers in the same region, and even if and where they are being sold and what kind of income this enterprise is generating.
The Sun Dried Solutions dehydrator system includes methods by which end users can provide feedback to us and our NGO and disaster relief agency counterparts. This feedback will include information about frequency and type of dehydrator use, and impact of the educational and nutritional guides that will compile to create a map of where our dehydrators are most useful and what crops are being preserved via these methods. These data will be used by us and other agencies to continually improve the effectiveness of our design and outreach. It will also become a part of the educational materials available to end users.
Trials and Tomatoes
We have selected tomatoes as our trial and indicator crop for many reasons. Tomatoes are have relatively high water content and so they represent juicier fruits and vegetables that can be tougher to preserve through dehydration. They are also a ubiquitous crop, being grown eaten regularly in most cultures around the world. For these reasons, we will use tomatoes in trials of dehydrator efficiency and cultural acceptability.
Team Member Profile: Ian
Ian Funnell is currently working on his bachelors of science studying Construction Science at Texas A&M University. His interest in helping third world country development was sparked when he spent two months in Port Au Prince, Haiti volunteering in an orphanage. While there he was able to see first hand many of the inefficiencies and unsafe practice that plagued the communities. Upon returning home he chose his current study with an end goal of building modular homes for developing third world countries. Ian has experience in both commercial and residential construction and also has a background as a machinist. His experience in building and fabrication along with his passion for serving the global community is what led him to join the Sun Dried Solutions team.
Team Member Profile: Taya
Taya Brown is a PhD student in the Horticultural Sciences Department at Texas A&M University focused on monitoring and evaluation of international agricultural development projects. A native of Washington state, Taya spent six years working on an organic row-crop and berry farm where she did farm work and managed farmers market stands, which further developed her interest in food related issues and led her to gain bachelor's degrees in organic agricultural systems and plant biology at Washington State University. Her current work surrounds evaluation of a project funded by The Starbucks Foundation and executed by World Coffee Research and Anacafe, addressing issues faced by small-scale coffee farmers in Southern Guatemala. She has extensive international experience, having worked and traveling in 41 of the 50 U.S. states and 23 countries, including Rwanda, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Holland, and New Zealand. She brings expertise in agricultural development, cultural acceptability, and food preservation to the Sun Dried Solutions team.