The main economic activity in Kenya is agriculture that includes production of cereals mainly maize, wheat, rice, sorghum, millet and other produce such as beans, peas, vegetable and fruits etc. The export market is dominated by tea, coffee and horticultural products.
Traditionally direct solar drying has been used for processing and preserving food, vegetables, fruits and other crops by laying products out in the sun to dry. However for bulky products, the National Cereals and Produce Board of Kenya has dryers that use diesel in all its stations in the country. These diesel powered dryers contribute to emission of carbon dioxide. However, there is no baseline data on the level of emission. At the various consultative meetings with relevant stakeholders, it has been suggested that the issue of the use of fuel-wood or fossil fuel in the drying of agricultural products be reviewed with a view to promoting application of green energy technologies such as solar energy as a mitigation option. The results of Multi-Criteria Analysis also placed Solar Dryer technology high in the list of prioritised technologies that can contribute to the socio-economic, environment and climate change mitigation.
In many other countries of the world, the use of solar thermal systems in agriculture to conserve vegetables, fruits, coffee, tea leaves and other crops has shown to be practical, economical and environmental friendly by reducing the use of fuel-wood and fossil fuel. The development of this technology can be at different levels namely the family units, medium scale systems for groups or cooperative societies, and large scale commercial applications for large commercial farming operations.
The main objective of this project concept is to promote widespread use of Solar Dryers technology amongst Kenyan farming community and other commercial enterprises who hitherto have been using traditional sun drying in the open or using the diesel fuelled dryers and fuel-wood to dry their products. This will not only cut down on the use of fossil fuel and fuel-wood but will also reduce contamination of products and increase climate change mitigation potential.