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Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Horticulture

Scaling up seed-drying technology

Video about using drying beads with horticultural seed, produced by Giovanni Ortolani and SciDev.Net. Read the accompanying article, "How seed-drying beads can empower farmers in the tropics."

Project Title: Implementing Drying and Packaging Technologies for Improved Horticultural Seed Quality

Target Country: Bangladesh

Principal Investigator: Johan Van Asbrouck, Rhino Research, Thailand

Project Description

Providing smallholder farmers access to high-quality seeds of improved varieties of horticultural crops is fundamental to increasing productivity and incomes. In humid tropical regions, traditional seed production and storage methods without temperature and moisture control result in rapid deterioration of seed quality. Enabling seed companies to dry, store, and package seeds of improved varieties will provide farmers with sources of high-quality seeds.

The goal of this project is to create the foundation for diffusion and large-scale adoption of advanced drying technologies in Bangladeshi agriculture. Drying in the hot, humid climate of Bangladesh, as with much of South and South East Asia, poses a significant challenge to seed production and agricultural processing. Traditional sun drying and dry room/cold storage methods lead to a rapid deterioration of the quality of agricultural seeds, resulting in large postharvest losses and susceptibility to mold, fungal and insect infestations. Bangladeshi seed companies estimate that they lose 5-10 percent or more of their seeds due to poor drying, worth tens of millions of dollars in horticultural seeds alone. The high cost and unreliable quality of improved, high-yielding, stress-tolerant seed varieties is a major factor in why less than half of Bangladeshi farmers buy commercial horticultural seeds; an even lower share buy commercial cereal seeds. Insufficient drying of agricultural products, for example groundnuts and chilies, leads to rapid deterioration after harvest and often development of aflatoxins within the products.

This project will address the challenges of drying seeds and commodities in hot, humid climates by scaling up the dry chain concept for horticultural seeds and commodities that was conceived and developed through the prior seed systems project. It will do so by promoting the commercial adoption of drying beads technology in Bangladesh for both seeds and processed food products. By getting major Bangladeshi seed producers and agricultural processors to adopt this technology, it will diffuse through commercial channels throughout those two sectors, and eventually to small-scale farmers. Indeed, several of the target companies have already approached Rhino Research/Centor Thai about manufacturing drying containers and becoming exclusive dealers for drying beads technology in Bangladesh. If efforts under this project to develop a viable business model to provide drying services to small-scale farmers are successful, diffusion to small-scale farmers will be much more rapid.


This project builds on completed projects

More information about drying beads