A small DRE intervention can go a long way in strengthening rural communities. This story of a member at CLEAN Network is one such instance. Read how the simple installation of energy storage dryers by Pluss Advanced Technologies helped farmers in Meghalaya to earn more income and reduce food wastage as well.
Meghalaya is a leading producer of spices, ginger, pineapple, banana, tomato, cashew nut, and oranges. About 80% of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihood. Poor storage facilities, a non-existent transport network, and irregular electricity in remote locations across the state have made it difficult for the farmer community to manage perishables, which subsequently also leads to a loss of income for farmers. Drying of horticulture produce is a viable option for farmers to avoid their wastage, but drying in itself is an energy-intensive process.
In 2018, Pluss Advanced Technologies, a Haryana-based company with the help of CLEAN Network and the Meghalaya State Council for Science, Technology & Environment, intervened to solve the problem of fresh farm produce drying for these farmers. Initially, the company got in touch with a few farmers in Balo. The farmers were unaware of such innovative technologies available in the market and were hoping for some kind of a solution.
When Pluss Advanced introduced Aagun to them (an energy storage-based solution that is grid-independent), they were ecstatic. Aagun is a 24×7 constant temperature dryer for drying varied products such as fish, fruits, cooked produce, and fresh horticulture harvest, grains, etc. It uses solar energy as a renewable source for producing heat during the day and storing the excess heat in Phase Changing Material (PCM).
The model was readily accepted in the farmer community and the results were there for the farmers to see immediately after its implementation. Pluss Advanced is a pioneer in such energy storage devices such as Aagun dryer has been achieved through the use of advanced PCMs.
The heat is stored in the form of thermal energy storage that creates a constant drying operation during night hours and maintains an ideal temperature range of 40-55 degrees C round the clock. This constant range of temperature is achieved without any electricity or fuel consumption.
The Aagun energy storage dryer has shortened the duration of drying from 6-7 days to just a few hours. This in turn has enabled farmers to offer a diverse range of dried products to consumers of much better quality. The market value of such dried products has also increased. This has opened avenues for better bargaining power, preventing distress selling by farmers. Apart from providing breakthrough support in drying, the energy storage dryer intervention has also brought entrepreneurship opportunities at the rural level through value addition to the fresh produce.
“By selling dried pineapples, farmers are now getting 5 times the price of fresh pineapple. Now, a single dried pineapple fetches them INR50 as against INR10 for a fresh one”, stated Andrew, who works as a Manager at the Bolmoram Training Centre set up by the state government.
With these efforts, Pluss Advanced Technologies is advancing India’s target to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by making a strong impact across:
– SDG 2 – Zero Hunger
– SDG 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy
– SDG 13 – Climate Action
Adoption of more such energy storage technologies will go a long way in minimizing food wastage, doubling farmers’ incomes, and generating employment locally at a large scale.