Packed sun-dried vegetables. Photo courtesy.
Sun Dried Vegetables Services, a Kenyan vegetable grocery based in Nairobi’s Central Business District has ventured into the business of sun drying of vegetables and selling to consumers in the city who buy at a higher price due to the vegetables’ high dry matter content.
According to Patrick Njoroge, an operator at the grocery they use solar equipment (drier) which has a special chamber for blowing away moisture from fresh vegetables reducing the moisture content to less than five per cent.
“With this, we are able to reduce rotting to zero and increased the shelf-life of vegetables from two days to more than eight months enabling us to make ready the produce to consumers at all times selling at better prices,” said Njoroge.
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Because of the of cash constraints and the lack of storage space, especially cold storage, wholesalers try to sell all vegetable stocks by the end of each day causing volatility of market prices, according to December 2015 report by Research Solutions Africa (RSA) Ltd.
In Kenya, it is estimated that 30 to 40 per cent of fruits and vegetables are wasted in farms and markets because they perish before consumption. But dried fruits and vegetables last from 12 to 18 months.
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Sun Dried Vegetables Services situated at the Farmers’ Market deals in a variety of indigenous vegetables such as Kunde (cowpea leaves), Managu (African Night Shade), Sageti (Spider Plant), Mrenda (Jute Mallow), Mto ( Sunhemp) as well as Kahurura (Pumpkin Leaves) among others.
The vegetables which go at between Sh10-40 a bundle when fresh sells at Sh200-400 a gram when dried.
Unlike fresh vegetables that require disposal within two days, the grocery is at liberty can hold on until when the market fetches more prices.
“The demand for these dried vegetables has been increasing especially among the health-conscious dwellers in the city with some asking us to incorporate spinach and kales in our dried packages,” said Njoroge.
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He says, during rainy seasons, the oversupply of the vegetables leads to low prices. This is his time of accumulating and drying the two varieties and stocking.
The grocery also sells to distant buyers through the grocery’s Facebook where consumers are expected to order for the produce using the numbers provided.
“Other than selling at the shop, we do countrywide deliveries at customers’ costs after they have paid for the produce via Mpesa.”
Sun Dried Vegetables Services can be reached on +254722384209 or Njoroge through +254720104487