These Solar-Powered Machines Help Farmers Dry Their Food Instead of Letting It Rot
Friday, October 9, 2015
A lot of food grown in developing countries never makes it to the people's bellies. Because of a lack of refrigeration, it rots during transport or when farmers fail to sell it immediately at markets. Every year, 1.3 billion tons of food (with a value of more than $1 trillion) is wasted in this way, according to the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization.
Drying food is a good alternative to cooling (perhaps you've heard of beef jerky). And with the FoodWa system, developed by a startup in Italy, you don't even need electricity to do that. Its dryer runs completely on solar energy, which is captured both in the form of heat and by solar panels.
"One of the main problems in developing countries is they destroy food during transportation from the fields to the market," says Paolo Franceschetti, the 33-year-old director of the company. "So we started to think of a system they can have directly in the field, so [farmers] can pick the food and dry it immediately. That way, they can save the food for all the year."
The FoodWa, which comes in two sizes, and is like a big ventilated box. The smaller "Batch" version can handle about 11 pounds at a time. The bigger industrial version does about 50 tons a month. It takes about seven hours to dry sardines, for example; a little longer for vegetables and fruits.