This is the prototype of the solar-powered date dryer! It was constructed in Berlin as a collaboration between AGYA members Amro Eltayeb, National Center for Research in Sudan, and Philipp Blechinger, Reiner Lemoine Institute Berlin, in cooperation with the ‘Energieseminar’ of the Technical University Berlin.
Dates are one of the most important agricultural products in Sudan and the Northern River Nile States. They represent a major nutritional base and ensure an important source of income for the farmers along the Nile.‘The problem’, says Amro Eltayeb, ‘is that more than 40% of the food produced for human consumption across the Sub-Saharan African countries is lost or wasted’. Most of these losses occur at the post-harvest and harvesting process stages, one of the reasons being a lack of appropriate drying facilities. The solar based drying of dates, which is not a novelty as such, but not yet implemented in Sudan, has therefore been suggested as a solution to avoid these losses and to improve the quality of the agricultural product. This low-tech and low-cost open source prototype has been built in a students´ workshop in Berlin. It is currently in exposition in the neighborhood garden project ‘Frieda Süd’, Berlin, and can be used by any interested visitor.
It is a small-scale prototype ideal for testing the technology and bears great potential for trials on farms. In this way users can make an easy first contact with the technology before scaling up to larger drying units. In order to grant an easy replicability, the students created a manual. This manual was handed over to the National Center for Research in Sudan where a solar dryer is currently under construction. The performance in the drying of dates will be tested and measured in Khartoum. Parameters such as the sugar and water content of the dates, the drying time, drying temperature and the relative humidity during the drying process will be recorded. Further design modifications will be discussed in conclusion of the results and may lay ground for a follow up project. The economic feasibility of regular size tunnel dryers will be evaluated within a master thesis by student assistant Maik Haas at the Reiner Lemoine Institute.
‘The majority of date farmers in Sudan, I have interviewed in the framework of this project, cannot wait to finally have an affordable solution at hand that will raise the productivity of their crop’, says Layla Kamal, project assistant at the National Center for Research in Sudan.
DATE and Venue of the project
Technical University Berlin, Germany
Pictures by AGYA