Summary

In indigenous communities of Solola, Guatemala 48% of children are malnourished. Their parents suffer related issues of high unemployment, lack of education and finance opportunities - the majority are dependent on irregular agricultural jobs. ATC works with local cooperatives to build and test solar dehydrators with community groups that immediately earn an added income as we test and improve the dehydrator design. Four Solar Dehydrators sustainably produce dried herbs, fruits and vegetables - generating an income and serving the local economy.    

Challenge        

High malnutrition rates, high unemployment, low access to information, and competition with big business keeps small scale farmers extremely poor. Selling agricultural products to middlemen, cash is only available at harvest time. Selling their harvest at the lowest cost, farmers have few opportunities to increase their incomes and break out of poverty. These factors contribute to barriers to income generation and the cycle of poverty continues.

Solution

Cooperatives of rural youth, women, agriculturalists, artisans and fishermen are a common strategy to pool resources to assist their economic development. Our solar dehydrator, easily built from locally available materials, uses passive solar power to capture heat and channel hot air through a drying chamber. It preserves herbs, fruits, vegetables and meats adding value to farm products, and widening their income margin. The dehydrator requires only 2-3 hours of easy work, fitting naturally within daily routines.

We work with these groups to develop unique, natural products for the local market. Our entreprenuership training program helps rural farmers develop business plans and sales strategies to fully benefit from their new dehydrator.

Two current user-groups, a women's cooperative and an Elders Association are using funds to cover medical expenses and family nutrition. Their feedback and work with volunteer engineers informed our 2019 prototype developed with engineering students at Universidad de Tecnologia, Tulancingo, Mexico. This new prototype improves standardization of dried products with solar powered, automated fans to maintain consistent humidity and temperatures.

We need your help to build and test this new prototype that has the potential to create jobs for thousands of rural people across Latin America.

Long-Term Impact

Our solar dehydrator design will be shared open-source on our design library - enabling community groups worldwide to start up ecological rural businesses. Our team in Guatemala is capable of starting up 3 new solar dehydrator businesses per year, and can replicate the entreprenuership component with partner organizations across Latin America.

The long-term result is more diverse, green economic development in rural areas.

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