In Uganda, post harvest-losses of small fishes (mukene) or else known as silver fish range from 10% in dry season to 90% in the rainy season. Uganda loses US $1.5m to silver fish post harvest losses alone. (Daily Monitor 2013)
Madraam Engineers is a team of seven graduate youths aiming at creating a sustainable Uganda through innovation and invention in the agricultural sector. It has so far successfully developed prototypes for a mobile solar powered cold room and biomass drier for the fish and fruit industry. These have yielded positive results and are feasible for commercialization. Still underway is research on a maize Sheller machine and portable silo technology.
There is an increasing investment in both the fruit and fish industry, however little is being done to improve the product competitiveness on the market in terms of quality as a result of poor post-harvest handling and processing. This has been due to the poor technologies used in both drying and the smoking process for fruits and fish respectively. The products from these technologies (direct smoke drying, solar drying and traditional sun drying) which are all subject to climate conditions and provide products with smoke, dust, flue gases all which are not healthy for direct human consumption. Hence this denies satisfaction to end users especially foreign markets that seek quality smoked fish, dried fruit and healthy snack products. On the contrary, electrical machine drying that is a better option faces a challenge of high power consumption, operation and maintenance costs making it inappropriate for use in Uganda.
Madraam engineers have developed a feasible alternative solution (Biomass dryer intervention) that supplies clean hot air to the drying chambers with the use of a heat exchanger which can be done 24/7. This will give high quality products that can be consumed directly with/without further processing required. The equipment has a competitive advantage of using high temperature streams of air to facilitate the drying process in the least possible time and could be a great solution for post-harvest handling in the regions of Kayunga for fresh fruits and Mayuge for fishing. The high quality and value of products from biomass dryers will not only provide safe products on the market but also improve on agricultural waste handling through the use of agricultural refuses (like coffee husks, briquettes, maize cobs, wood shavings, to mention but a few). Therefore; the investment in the manufacture of Biomass dryers will help farmers provide quality products that meet the standards on both local and foreign markets. This will increase foreign exchange in the long run as a result of value addition to both the fresh fruit and fish industry in Uganda.
Therefore MADRAAM Engineers Ltd came up with a machine that seeks to cut down the post harvest losses by capitalizing on safe post-harvest handling of the fish product even in the rainy season. The machine is able to achieve this by providing effective in-house drying. It also has a competitive edge given the fact that it has little/no reliance on natural weather conditions to do the drying.
The machine basically uses biomass in terms of charcoal, briquettes, wood shavings and other agricultural waste that is heated to provide heat to the heat exchanger copper tubings. The heat exchanger unit then heats up incoming clean air that is supplied to the drying chamber to dry the fish and the moisture driven out by means of of an impeller fan at the top corner of the chamber.
To maintain relevancy to our customers we are considering producing hybrid biomass-solar dryers to cut down the cost of running the machine in both dry and wet seasons. The material used in the design of these dryers is locally available and design specifications are optimized to ensure the machine remains affordable to fish farmers.
We therefore seek funding to establish a workshop and demonstration point for these biomass dryers in Kiyindi landing site Buikwe District.