Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Bananas and Beef Jerky: Addressing Nutritional Deficiencies through Solar Dehydration in Nicaragua

What do bananas and beef jerky have to do with each other? A few weeks ago, that is the question 65 participants set out to answer as they attended Farmer-to-Farmer food dehydration demonstrations hosted by the Fabretto Children’s Foundation. In Nicaragua, rural and food insecure communities face the daily challenge of meeting nutritional needs without access to refrigeration to preserve fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient-dense foods.
Participants assist in constructing the dehydrator.
With the help of F2F volunteer Timothy Bowser, however, Fabretto students and staff alike were trained in the use of solar dehydration technology. Products as simple as bananas and beef jerky are examples of value-added agricultural goods that can be preserved through this process.

Timothy assisted in the construction of three solar dehydrators, one at each Fabretto site he visited. Staying true to Fabretto’s methodology of “learning by doing,” participants took part in building the dehydrator and demonstrating its use after completion.  

The simple structure of solar dehydrators makes them ideal for low-resource settings at a very low cost. Not only will the implementation of this technology improve household health and well being, but it will open up new business opportunities for Nicaraguan families and foster excitement for agricultural innovation among young people. Timothy’s recommendations for continued success of the project include investigating local dehydrated food markets and organizing cooperatives to build larger-scale dehydrators. 

Fabretto students pose with their newly
completed solar dehydrator.
In addition to demonstrating solar dehydration, participants learned drip irrigation theory at two sites in an effort to improve fruit and vegetable cultivation. Timothy's work shed new light on the value of innovative agricultural solutions for food insecure communities. Both projects served to build Fabretto’s capacity to energize youth around hands-on learning that will make them leaders in their communities.

Read more about our other F2F projects hosted by organizations in Nicaragua, the Land of Lakes and Volcanoes.

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