The Centre of Excellence for Vegetables at Gharaunda in Haryana has set up “Aagun” dryers for processing farm produce and “PronGO” cold storage boxes for storing and transport of farm produce at optimum temperature till it is sold in the market. The Centre of Excellence was set up as part of a government-to-government cooperation between India and Israel to bring innovative technologies to farmers to enhance food availability and farmer incomes.

A media statement said an NGO Advit Foundation, with CSR support from Axalta Coating Systems, has assisted with procurement of the dryer and the cold storage boxes.

The dryer allows for converting excess food harvest such as tomato, cucumber, carrot, okra among others, into high-value dried products; and the cold storage boxes allow for storage and transportation of vegetables and fruits such that no withering or deterioration in their quality takes place from farm-to-market.

Working concept

The dryers and cold storage boxes work on the concept of “Phase Change Materials” that enable heating and cooling without the need for constant electricity. “Phase Change Materials” store and release energy, allowing for flexibility in temperature maintenance and its control without having to rely on grid-electricity or batteries or generators.

In “Aagun” dryer, a pre-determined drying temperature could be set at 45-50 degree Celsius depending on the vegetable or fruit to be dried. Solar heat during the day is used to maintain this temperature, and “excess” solar heat is stored in the “Phase Change Materials”. This stored heat gets released during non-sunshine hours and at night and gives uniform drying.

This leads to better quality dried products, with higher nutritional value, aroma, colour and taste owing to uniform drying without temperature fluctuations. The statement said nearly 15-20 kg of vegetables can be dried in 24 hours in the “Aagun” dryer. The cost of operation is virtually zero, and the drying is more hygienic and less time consuming as compared to conventional drying under the sun, it said.

The “PronGO” cold storage box maintains 0-8 degree Celsius temperature without electricity for upto 120 hours. It can also be mounted on two-wheeler vehicles and taken to the market. The box comes with a “recharge station”, a solar energy operated refrigerator, for storing thermal energy in the “Phase Change Materials”.

The “Aagun” dryer and the “PronGO” cold storage storage box have been designed and made in India by the Gurugram-based Pluss Advanced Technologies, which is a subsidiary of Carborundum Universal, a Murugappa group company.

Quoting Charu Jain, Director of Advit Foundation, the statement said: “A strategic intervention through indigenous innovations will allow us to ensure that the farmers get a fair price for their produce, food spoilage is reduced, and the food availability is increased.”