NAIROBI, KENYA – A new project in East Africa introduced smallholder farmers to the GrainPro®Solar Bubble Dryer™ (SBD) — a state-of-the-art drying solution that protects commodities against sudden rains while it dries.

The project – Making Value Chains Work for Food and Nutrition Security of Vulnerable Populations in East Africa – aims to reach some five million smallholder farmers across multiple agricultural communities and 50,000 consumers across Uganda and Kenya. As part of the three-year initiative, a unit was installed in September for a local company that manufactures affordable and nutritious snacks. The SBDs will be used to dry beans – a highly nourishing crop aimed at low-income households. Eight more of these dryers were distributed to local farmers in different regions of Uganda and Kenya on November 2016.

A major challenge for smallholders in the area are the intermittent rains that occur during the drying process. The SBD’s top cover absorbs heat from the sun to dry the grains and seeds while providing protection against sudden rains. Ventilators push out moisture to exhausts at the back. The SBD is easy-to-use and can be installed on any flat surface.

Proper drying is a requirement for improved food preservation. Developed by GrainPro with the International Rice Research Institute and the University of Hohenheim (Germany), the SBDs are creating a buzz most notably among women farmers who see it as a tool that could reduce their workload and improve their processes. Together with CIAT, the partners are testing the SBD with farmers and food processors in the region.

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