Fabrication: The EasyDry M500 is designed for fabrication by local artisans and has been manufactured in Kenya with local materials at a cost of $850, including expected profit margins. In Tanzania, the estimated manufacturing cost is $1,100; Rwanda is $1,660 and Uganda $1,100.
Service Operator: Similar to mechanical maize shelling services, in Kenya, the EasyDry M500 is ideally owned by a service provider, who visits different farmers every day of the drying season. In Uganda, it’s more likely that the dryer will be owned by an village aggregation center, drying the maize on farm/at the VAC before transport to the central store. As such, the EasyDry M500 was designed to be portable and can be transported on 2 motorbikes. Our market research found that entrepreneurs willing to provide the EasyDry M500 service would expect to recoup their investment (~$850/machine in Kenya) within a two-year period; to do there must be demand to dry a minimum 1.5MT/3 batches of maize per day at a cost to the farmer of ~$9.70/batch; each batch is 500kgs.
Based on an annual, 40 day drying season and a 2% adoption rate among smallholders, an EasyDry M500 operator could have sufficient customers to service within a 1.6km radius.
How it works: The dryer burns maize cobs as its main heat source, given that cobs are available on farm and at little to no-cost. The heat and smoke produced from burning the maize cobs passes through the heat exchange of the EasyDry M500 and then out the chimney. A second fan, powered by 5 liters of petrol per day, pushes clean air through alternative channels in the heat exchange. This dry, hot air is then pushed through the maize bed, which is suspended on a ‘table’ like structure, placed within a canvass ‘bag’. Within 3 hours, up to 500 kg of ‘wet’ maize with a moisture content of approximately 19%, is dried to a level closer to 13.5%, which allows for safer post-harvest storage. A fabrication manual and an operator manual (for service providers) are both available online, along with a video. The EasyDry is simple to understand – instead of putting the maize on the ground and letting the sun evaporate the moisture, the maize is suspended and hot air pushed through.
The EasyDry M500 was originally developed by the AflaSTOP project, with funding from USAID and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. AflaSTOP was implemented by ACDI/VOCA and Agribusiness Systems International under the direction of Meridian Institute.