The sun shines on Sierra Leone fruit and vegetable growers...
6 August 2010
Fruit and vegetable growers in four districts in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone have received a boost with the arrival of 20 solar drying units in their communities. Early reports indicate that the growers have started using the dryers successfully. A formal training programme took place in Makeni in late June. The training concentrated on the construction and use of the driers, and ensuring food processing hygiene principles and better understanding of the advantages of the solar drying system. This will embed skills and build local capacity to add value to crops.
During the pilot phase:
- 15,000 fruit and vegetable farmers, mostly women, will be testing the 20 solar drying units
- the shelf life of the dried crops will increase from 2-3 days to 2-6 months
- by extending the periods when these crops can be sold this can increase incomes by around 50%
, coordinator RIU Sierra Leone, said:
"We have worked with the communities in the Northern Province to establish the need for solar dryers and the market for the dried fruit and vegetables they will produce. By drying produce these farmers will be adding to food security and creating higher value crops, which they can sell. Solar dryers will be provided for other communities if this pilot proves to be a success."
Madam Salamatu Bangura, a participant on the training course, said:
"On behalf of our community I would like to thank the Sierra Leone Research Into Use for saving our fruits and vegetables from spoilage. This will further help us to preserve our crops fast and add value and, in the end, increase our incomes which will use to support our children"
The driers have been placed in the following districts:
- Bombali District (Rosint Junction, Makoth Junction, Kathantha, Bomfu, Yainkasa, Foroyloko, Kamaranka, PANLAP, Binkolo Growth Centre and Madam Makombo)
- Koinadugu District (Sanakudu, Sallaminia and Thawullia)
- Tonkolili District (Yoni [Peace Village Centre], Serry Junction, Gbonkolenken [Magbolu-Ferry] and Magburaka)
- Port Loko District (Kalanbga Town, Bomiya and Masilimany)
Farmer Mrs. Aminata Bangura from Pati-Bana Marank in Bombali said:
"We are motivated to intensify our cultivation of more vegetables than we used to do before, because the post harvest losses will now be minimized with the use of solar dryers distributed by RIU. I hope with abundance of sunlight other farmers in the other parts of the country will benefit from this technology".
Farmer Mrs Sidratu Kamara of Makambo, Bombali District said:
"Being commercial processors this technology will save us the cost of firewood. We will have more hygienic products and this process will enable us to dry our fruit during the raining season without running around to gather them in each time it rains. It will help us keep our products for 3 - 4 months as compare to just 2 - 3 days. I hope RIU will work with other development partners to build solar dryers the size of the drying floor - this will be of great help for drying huge quantities of crops".
Farmer Mr Atta-Kusi, of Three Mile, Bombali District said:
"We are grateful to RIU for saving us from wastage of cassava tubers and leaves, sweet potato leaves and roots, mangoes, tomatoes, pumpkin and oranges that we have been incurring during harvest by providing us with the solar dryer. It is a fast and decent preserver of our fruits, tubers and vegetables. From today I will work hard, and then tomorrow I will be a rich man because after thorough processing and preservation I will sell my products throughout the year".