Lack of post-harvest processing and storage results into food shortage, poverty that leads to malnutrition among small holder farmers and poor-resourceful communities. Agri-products, fish and meat in India go through dramatic seasonal variations of price fluctuations too. During harvesting season, food products are available at very low cost. Therefore, **socio-economic technological interventions **helps to ensure nutritional food security, maintain dietary variations across year, overcome gender inequality, reduce poverty, post-harvest losses and food shortage problem.
On broader level, to store food products throughout the year, cold storage and dehydration are two technically possible alternatives. Cold storage needs high capital cost, continuous supply of electricity, various storage conditions for various food products and need to maintain food products at substantially lower temperature during storage time. It makes cold storages unsuitable for poor and rural communities having shortage of electricity, capital cost and skilled man-power.
Dehydration (drying) is relatively simple technology which can be practiced under open sky or by electrical and solar dryers. Dehydrated agri-animal products can be stored at room temperatures and used throughout the year. But, open sun drying can’t be practiced to dry all agri-animal products and suffers from issues of low nutritional product quality, Food microbial safety challenge colour-flavor loss, dust-insect contamination and 10-30% losses during drying.
Electrical dryers are complex, they need electricity and their operating cost is prohibitively high USD 0.2/kg for low value agri-animal products like fruit, vegetable and fish. Good solar dryers are complex, need electricity for fans, capital intensive and not designed in modular ways keeping women centric aspect.
The current scenario demands for technical intervention that is low capital cost, free of electricity, women centric modular design and easy to use that is aimed at converting post-harvest losses into value added products.
Solar Conduction Dryer (SCD) is a patented technology developed by the Indian organization-Science for Society (S4S Technologies), first decentralised food processing company and Institute of Chemical Technology (UDCT), based in Mumbai, India and tested under the guidance of National Institute of Nutrition (Government of India). SCD is the solar powered food dehydration unit that is overcoming loss and waste challenges by providing household level solar food dehydrator.
Solar dehydration increases shelf life of perishable fruits and vegetables from few days to one year, saving post harvest losses. SCD works with zero operating cost and retains 46% more nutrients than industrial dryers. The technology can dehydrate a range of vegetables, fruits, spices and marine products.
Farmers use SCD to dehydrate range of fruits, vegetables at farm level which they use for own consumption and S4S buys back the surplus dehydrated produce from farmers, processes and supplies them both to processors and end consumers via supermarkets and online platforms like Amazon.
S4S that targets worldwide market of USD 58 billion market of dehydrated products. On the other hand, S4S’s intervention increases farmers profit by 50-200%, reduces farm level post-harvest losses from average 25% to 5% and improves haemoglobin and nutrition level of farmer families by 36%.