The Central Institute of Fisheries Technology has come up with an innovative and economical 'stand-alone fish dryer' that runs on solar energy. The equipment is expected to bring down the cost of drying fish apart from doing away with unhygienic drying practices rampant in the fishdrying sector.
The fish dryer is a fully polythene-covered, easy-to-fix and dismantle stand-alone structure, which can be put up at open areas, preferably seashores, with a drying shelf inside, to dry the fish in a hygienic and eco-friendly atmosphere apart from making most of the day light.
The most attractive feature of the model is that it does not require electricity connection but only a medium-sized to power the fans inside the dryer to dissipate hot air evenly inside. An additional feature included is a completely automatic smart temperature monitoring system with an SMS alert facility, which provides updates on temperature levels in the dryer.
Normally, fishermen suffer tremendous losses when there is an over-catch. Such equipment are expected to help them convert the surplus fish into dried fish in a cost-friendly manner. About 20-30% of total fish are dried for export and local consumption. Fish are preserved by removing moisture from them, thereby arresting the growth of bacteria, action of enzymes and chemical oxidation of the fat. Traditionally, fishermen dry the fish in open sun but often their quality leaves a lot to be desired.
Such a method depends on weather conditions and is vulnerable to dust and rains and attack from insects, pests and microorganisms. Also, it requires a longer drying time.
A working model of the equipment developed by the scientists from the engineering division of the institute has already been installed on the CIFT campus at Kochi for a demonstrative purpose. The product costs around Rs 67,000, excluding the GST.