Solar drier to reduce human dependency on forest resources in Mizoram, India

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The State of Mizoram in India has a land use policy in place where the priority is on converting unsustainable land management practices into more sustainable ones. Population growth has put substantial pressure on the traditional practice of shifting cultivation. Rotations nowadays are much shorter and a lot less sustainable than they were some decades ago.

Mizoram’s forest cover is the highest of any state in India but it is severely degraded. ICIMOD’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+ Initiative) is working with the Advanced Research Centre for Bamboo and Rattan (ARCBR) of the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) and the State Department of Environment, Forests and Climate Change in Mizoram for building capacity on REDD+ in India’s North East.

Demonstration on how to use a solar drier
Photo: Rajesh Rai/SANDEE

As a measure to promote value addition in agricultural practices on farmlands, the project has supported local communities in the villages of Reiek and Ailawng by installing one solar drier each for processing turmeric. This will translate to higher income for farmers and reduce the need to extract forest products to support their livelihood. This serves as one demonstration activity that can contribute to addressing the drivers of forest degradation. The drier was handed over to the local community with an understanding that farmers are only allowed to process turmeric harvested in their farmlands.   


Principal Secretary and PCCF of Mizoram Lalram Thanga inaugurating the handing over ceremony
Photo: Rajesh Rai/SANDEE

Principal Secretary and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) of Mizoram, Lalram Thanga, inaugurated the handing over ceremony on 28 April 2017. During the event, he suggested that local community members carry out regular maintenance of the drier by cleaning the panels and trays. The inauguration was followed by an orientation session on REDD+ by Rongura Hrahsel, Assistant Forest Officer, Aizawl District, Mizoram. While thanking ICIMOD for selecting Mizoram for the REDD+ Himalaya project, he said that more driers could be introduced after observing the performance of the two driers for the next few months. 

Locals were pleased to receive the drier which can be used to fulfill multiple purposes such as for drying vegetables. It can also run on electric power. The drier can dry 150 kg of turmeric at a time, and when it is running on solar power, the process takes two days to complete. The drier needs to be able to operate on electricity as well as Mizoram experiences a very long monsoon.