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< prev - next > Crop processing Drying solarfishdrier (Printable PDF)
Technical brief
Construction and
maintenance of Solar Fish
This Technical brief details the basic construction techniques as well as the material, equipment, skills and labour requirements
necessary to construct a low cost solar fish drier suitable for the small scale dry fish producers of Sri Lanka.
Initiatives to improve the productivity and quality standards
of the local dry fish industry is important for several reasons.
Firstly, fish, including dry fish, is the most important source
of protein, ac counting for 65% of the protein intake of the
average Sri Lankan consumer. With the gradual increase in
population, the demand for fish and processed fish is also
steadily increasing. Secondly, it is estimated that Sri Lanka
imports about 28,000t of dry fish annually, (Ministry of
Fisheries and Aquatic Resources - Fisheries Strategy
Document 2005), amounting to a significant outflow of
foreign currency from the country. Improving the local dry
fish industry can help save at least a portion of this outflow
of foreign currency. Thirdly, dry fish is an important source
of income for the small scale coastal fisheries communities
of Sri Lanka
Dry fish production mainly consists of micro level cottage
enterprises, carried out predominantly by fisherwomen as a
supplementary source of income. As such, the quantities
produced tend to be low. Furthermore due to the long drawn
drying process, the moisture retained creates an ideal
environment for growth of fungi. The practice of drying the
fish in the open under the sun affects the hygienic conditions
of the dried fish, due to the high risk of contamination with
dust particles and harmful contaminants.
However, the scale of the average dry fish enterprise
precludes the introduction of sophisticated methods of fish
preservation. The high capital requirement and the fuel cost
of many of the high-tech dryers makes it unaffordable and
impractical for the small scale dry fish producer.
Furthermore, social factors such as attitudes, lifestyle and
behaviour makes it difficult to introduce radical changes to
conventional drying methods.
Practical Action started with the general understanding that
there was a need for a low cost, low technology means for
producing larger quantities of high quality dry fish. Through
a combination of community and expert consultation,
Practical Action innovated a solution in the form of a solar
powered fish dryer. The use of solar energy means that the
cost of energy is zero. It’s simple design makes the cost of
installation low, especially since most of the material can be
easily sourced locally. The dryer is sealed to avoid
contamination. The maintenance cost is minimal, and it
allows for faster drying compared to the conventional drying
Who to contact: Project Manager – Fisheries or the Resource Desk at
Practical Action (formerly ITDG)
No 5, Lionel Edirisinghe Mw, Colombo 5, Sri Lanka.
T +94 (11) 2829412 F +94 (11) 2856188