Solar Dryer Transforms Meghalaya’s Fruit Drying Process Locally

Smart Village Movement, September 20, 2023

Dried Tamarillo by using the Chimney Solar Dyer

Smart Village Movement in collaboration with UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, and University of California, Davis, has introduced a cost-effective chimney solar dryer in Meghalaya. This innovation addresses the challenges posed by traditional sun drying methods, which are time-consuming and susceptible to weather conditions, and expensive conventional drying methods.

This accomplishment highlights our constant dedication to innovation and independence and a significant advancement for the Smart Village movement.

The Problem: A Lack of Affordable Agri  Equipment

In a village in Meghalaya, a Village Organisation was identified to test the chimney solar dryer for drying carrots, chilies, and tamarillo for pickle making. The challenge addressed by this model is the drying of materials during the summer, which has been a persistent issue for the organisation. The lack of reasonably priced dryers and other necessary agricultural equipment was one of the noteworthy difficulties we encountered on our path toward sustainable agriculture.

Chimney Solar Dryer

A Handcrafted Response

Our dedication to open innovation, collaboration, and sustainability came in the face of limited solutions. After thorough research, it became evident that drying vegetables and fruits remained a challenge in Meghalaya, despite efforts to dry turmeric and ginger by the Department of Horticulture and other agencies. This challenge was presented to the University of California, Berkeley, and a student named Hannah Lee identified the Chimney Solar Dryer designed by the University of California, Davis. Subsequently, discussions were initiated with UC Davis regarding the model, leading to the sharing of a manual for model development.

A learner turned entrepreneur, and expert in woodwork  Banteilang Nongrum from the Chief Minister’s Youth Centre in Sohrarim, was identified to build the prototype. He procured all the necessary materials from nearby vendors and Iewduh Market, completing material arrangements and product development in a span of 4-5 days. This initiative represents a significant step towards efficient and cost-effective drying solutions, addressing a crucial need in the region.The low-cost chimney solar dyer was then introduced in Iateilang Village Organisation to test the drying of fruits and vegetables.

The handcrafted Chimney Solar Dryer experiment was a genuine team effort. Ten to twelve participants from various Self-Help Groups joined to work on the project actively. Together, starting with the early steps of cleaning and slicing fruit and vegetables, we attentively recorded the entire drying process.


Key Features of the Chimney Solar Dryer:

Continuous Airflow: The dryer’s design incorporates a chimney that ensures consistent airflow both above and below the products, significantly accelerating the drying process compared to other designs.

Large Heat Collection Area: The dryer boasts a generous heat-collection area, leading to higher temperatures and rapid moisture removal.

This accomplishment highlights our constant dedication to innovation and independence and a significant advancement for the Smart Village movement.


Handmade Chimney Solar Dryer for Fruits and Vegetables

Dried Carrots

Dried Chillies

Our test products were dried and usable after just 11 hours of patiently waiting and sun-soaking. The products are then further processed into carrot pickles, chilly pickles, and tamarillo pickles. This accomplishment highlights the Locally-made Chimney Solar Dryer’s potential for environmentally friendly food preservation while lowering post-harvest losses and boosting the nutritional value of our crops.

In Image: SVM Team with  Iateilang Village Organisation Members

We are sincerely grateful to the Iateilang Village Organisation for their consistent assistance throughout this project. With each handmade innovation, we are paving the way for a more sustainable future for our neighbourhood.

We are still devoted to looking into cutting-edge answers to the problems we will face in the future. The accomplishment of our DIY Chimney Solar Dryer symbolises hope and fortitude, showing us that, with willpower and innovation, we can overcome any challenge in the way of a better and more sustainable future.

Watch this space for additional updates as we progress toward sustainability and independence.