This initiative is spurring women farmers in Nigeria to use solar food dryers. “Enhancing Energy Security and Rural Entrepreneurship: Capacity Building of Rural Women” preserves harvests and reduces waste, helping rural communities to better cope with climate change.
Climate change has altered weather patterns, which affects farming – also in the fertile Buruku region of Nigeria. Sometimes crops fail for rural farmers there, while at other times they get a bumper crop. During periods of abundance, demand drops and farmers end up selling off their harvest at near-giveaway prices. If bumper crops are left in the fields, they risk being burned, flooded, or infested by pests. Some fruits and vegetables can be preserved through drying, although the conventional practice of laying them on the ground in the sun isn’t always hygienic.
The Nigerian Women Environmental Programme is providing women in the Adogo community with solar food dryers to harness the sun’s rays. This hygienically heats and desiccates fruits and vegetables, assuring preservation of the food’s value. With the dryers, rural women are now able to sell their wares at better prices during the off-peak season.
Helping the planet
Since the dryers preserve food that may have gone to waste, it’s contributing to more efficient farming practices – this conserves natural resources like water and soil. Food is being dried by tapping solar energy, assuring that the process is climate friendly.
The rural women who use the solar food dryers are able to make more money by selling their crops at better prices, which insures that the time they invest in farming brings decent returns. Higher incomes allow women to send their children to school, for example. Since food that may have gone to waste is being preserved and consumed instead, these farmers have better food security and are less vulnerable to fluctuations in weather caused by climate change.
The Adogo community is in Nigeria’s Benue state, which is also known as the food basket of the nation. Many communities in this state face similar challenges, and the project could be scaled up to assist other (predominately female) rural farmers.
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