Dry chain technology to reduce post harvest losses

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Food supplies are limited in developing countries by both yield gaps and postharvest losses. Reducing wastage can improve food security, as up to one-third of food produced is lost after harvest. Losses of fresh fruits and vegetables often receive the most attention, but cereals, oilseeds and pulses account for more than 60% of the food calories lost globally. The primary cause is poor storage, especially high moisture contents that promote mold and insect damage. The viable approach is dry chain technology that means the drying of commodities whether through natural or artificial means after harvest followed by hermetic packaging to make the product dry and keep it dry until used in the value chain. Once dried and packaged, no further energy or infrastructural input is required to preserve quality and prevent aflatoxin accumulation. Implementation of this technology has far-reaching consequences to improve food security, nutrition and animal and human health. Dry chain technology will be implemented by replacing porous storage containers with hermetically sealed bags that can prevent both moisture and oxygen penetration into seeds and thus reduced the storage losses due to insects and without using any insecticides. Likewise, locally available plastic containers will be utilized and modified by fitting hygrometer to monitor moisture contents inside. However, commodities need to be dried to appropriate moisture content before storage. For that purpose, low cost solar tunnel mobile dryer will be introduced for drying of cereals and grain legumes during autumn season to lower down seed moisture contents to safer limit. A powerful desiccant (Drying Beads) will be introduced that can be used to dry commodities and then be activated for reuse by heating (with greater energy efficiency than heated-air drying systems). The desiccant is only required for a short period by a given user, enabling its repeated and continual reuse through community-based drying service centers that will be established. Sufficient drying and moisture-proof packaging will prevent fungal growth and accumulation of aflatoxin in storage, empowering farmers to choose when to eat and when to sell their products.

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