Umogbai, V.I and Iorter, H.A
Farmers in Nigeria encounter the problems of loss of their produce during post harvest and storage. Freshly harvested maize cobs with high moisture content is susceptible to rot and fungi infestation. Most farmers therefore accomplish their drying by hanging on wooden platforms for sun drying. This simple method allows the maize to be contaminated by insects and rodents. For good storage condition and availability of produce all year round, improved drying techniques are essential. Electricity and other sources of power, especially motorized power, are out of reach for most maize farmers. Passive Solar dryers which do not need electricity or other source of power have been recommended for maize drying by several authors. A Passive solar dryer for maize cobs was constructed and tested at the College of Engineering, University of Agriculture, Makurdi. The sides of the dryer were made of plywood coated with white emulsion paint, with an inner drying tray made of wire mesh. The top of the collector was made of a layer of 4 mm thick, 100 cm x 70 cm colourless glass sheet which served as the cover plate. A 0.5 mm thick, 100 cm x 70 cm Zinc roofing sheet painted black served as the absorber. Sun drying which is the popular practice by farmers in Nigeria was used to compare the performance of the developed solar dryer. Freshly harvested maize cobs with moisture content of 30.3 % were used for the performance evaluation of the developed solar dryer. Results showed that, it took 3 days to dry the maize cobs to a moisture content of 13.3 %, while it took 6 days to sundry the maize cobs to 13.4 % moisture content. The dryer can be made in commercial sizes for rural community to fast track drying operations. The cost of construction is N12,000:00.
Share this article