he Tirumaraikadu Iyarkai Vivasayigal Sangam Kootamaippu (Tirumaraikadu Bio-farmers Federation) comprising 21 farmers clubs involved in producing copra in a cluster of villages near Vedaranyam has been registering expeditious production of copra, using solar dryer.
Till a few months ago, the farmers had to rely on sunlight for drying the coconuts for producing the copra.
But, following the initiative by the Agricultural Engineering Department, the Federation has gone in for the subsidy-based dryer installed at an expenditure of Rs.3.86 lakh including a subsidy of Rs.1.84 lakh.
The dryer has been set up at Chettipulam near Vedaranyam and has been catering to the needs of copra producers in the neighbouring clusters including Kariapattinam, Katharipulam and Karuvapulam.
“The dryer has come as a gift to us during the recent months, particularly after the onset of the North-East monsoon,” says G. Balasubramanian, member of the Federation, also president of the Farmers Club in Chettipulam, who has been maintaining the dryer.
Under the conventional method, it took about ten days for drying the coconuts. But, the solar dryer not only expedited it in two days but also ensured hygienic handling of the produce, he explains.
The dryer, with a plinth area of 400 square feet, can handle 1,500 coconuts which are broken before being arranged in trays at the dryer. “The dryer maintains a temperature anywhere between 60 and 70 degree Celsius and it is monitored using a sensor,” he says.
On the advantages of the dryer during the monsoon period, he said that under the conventional method, the copra was damaged due to sudden downpour. But, the dryer has relieved them of the additional efforts of protecting the crop from rain.
According to Agriculture Engineering department sources, it has been planned to motivate the farmers to utilise the dryer for value-addition in other crops particularly for preparing the banana. Being a coastal area, Vedaranyam and surrounding villages were more prone to sharp showers and strong winds both of which would damage copra.
Under the conventional method, it took about ten days for drying the coconuts. But, the solar dryer not only expedited it in two days but also ensured hygienic handling of the produce