ASF helps chilli growers install solar dryers

Wednesday, April 29, 2009
By The News correspondent

LAHORE: Chilli farmers of Sindh have installed or are planning to install 588 small units of solar dryers for chilli drying on an experimental basis at an approx cost of Rs6.4 million. These farmers collectively produce approx 1,000 tonnes of chillies.

Agribusiness Support Fund (ASF) in partnership with Sindh Agriculture & Forestry Workers Coordination Organization (SAFWCO) Sindh Rural Support Program (SRSP) and local farmers has formed 29 Farmers Enterprise Groups consisting of 294 farmers to start the use of solar dryers for chillies.

ASF, SAFWCO and local farmers have laid the path for the successful resolution of the long-standing issues of chilli growers of Sindh.

Chilli is an important cash crop of the Sindh province, particularly in Kunri located in Umer Kot District. Production of red chilli in the province is 80,000 tonnes per annum, which accounts for around 86 per cent of the total red chilli production of Pakistan. Until fairly recently, this area was known as the chillies capital of the world.

However, the region is losing its importance as a chilli hub ever since its produce has started facing sanctions in the international markets. The imposition of sanctions is a result of poor harvest and post harvest practices which lead to contamination of the product and loss of colour due to the long duration (10 to 12 days) required for drying, which is carried out in the open fields.

Rainfall further exacerbates the problem since it results in the destruction of the harvested crop and also helps spur a fungal disease (the cancerous Aflotoxin) considered as one of the most serious food related health hazards.

In order to address the situation ASF entered into a dialogue with the local stakeholders, including growers, traders, processors and local NGOs. Subsequently ASF in partnership with SAFWCO, SRSP (Sindh Rural Support Program) and local farmers has formed 29 Farmers Enterprise Groups consisting of 294 Farmers. These farmers have installed or are planning to install 588 small units of solar dryers for chilli drying on an experimental basis at an approx cost of Rs6.4 million. These farmers collectively produce approx 1,000 tonnes of chillies.

The two participating farmers, Haji Ayub of village Khan Mohammad Kheskhilli and Ali shah of village Haji Matal Dharaijo revealed that they have full confidence in the performance of the solar dryers and have termed it a great success.

According to them the quality of the solar dried chillies has improved tremendously, especially after adopting technical advice of the ASF team, with respect to harvest and post harvest practices including washing of the produce before drying. The farmers were delighted to realize a 50 per cent increase in the price of their produce from Rs1800 per 40 kg to Rs2800 per 40 kg in the open market. Moreover, the drying time of the chillies has also been reduced from 12 days to five days resulting in substantial reduction in labour costs.

ASF is continuing efforts in collaboration with SAFWCO, local growers and research and educational institutions to scale-up the model and install larger units for the benefit of the farming community at large. It is pertinent to mention that these solar dryers have the potential to become a model simple and low-cost appropriate technology that may easily be replicated by small farmers of Sindh on a sustainable basis.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: