The Apricot Solar Dryer Tunnel - Pakistan is an application of the Solar Drying technology adapted to the local context. The drying plants are mostly built with local stone and mud bricks and equipped with wooden panels, glass windows, trays and ventilation systems. These two-story plants are built mainly on rooftops and inside walled fruit orchards with the upper drying floor facing the sun like a greenhouse, and the ground floor used for storage and packaging. The drying plants allow farmers to preserve apricots for a long period of time and sell them continuosly, increasing the income and turning agriculture into agribusiness, in favour of the economic development of the country.
Problem addressed: The Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan Region economy relies on fruit production, e.g. apples, peach, cherries, almonds, walnut and apricot etc. Farmers in Gilgit-Baltistan produce over 100,000 metric tons of fresh apricots per year.Fruit from the Region has to be dried in order to preserve it for contimuing sale. traditional drying techniques, including spreading the fruit out on rooftops, rocks and on exposed ground,mean a high percentage of fruit goes to waste due to contamination, bad weather or consumption by birds or animals.
Potential improvement: The innovative (for the context) technique allows for meeting the need for modernizing the drying process, leading to improvement in the apricot processing and, accordingly, apricot quality, reduction in losses and access to market.
The Apricot Solar Drying Tunnel have been built by the local farmers thanks to the support of the Agribusiness Support Fund (ASF)which is a not-for-profit company established by Pakistan’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture in 2006, under the broader Asian Development Support (ADB) - supported Agribusiness Development and Diversification Project.The ASF is helping to diversify and develop the agribusiness sector across Pakistan. In Gilgit-Baltistan, ASF partnered with Agha Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP) to help small-scale farmers to add value to their products. The two organizations now work with 650 farmers on improving apricot processing, mainly by providing training and grant support to set up apricot solar drying tunnels.
Source: Asian Development Bank (ADB) website