Innovation Scaling: BAU-STR Dryer
Storage losses in grains are often a result of improper and inadequate drying. The BAU-STR dryer is an efficient, low-cost, small-batch mobile grain dryer developed by Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) with support from ADMI and the USAID Feed the Future Innovation Lab for the Reduction of Post-Harvest Loss (PHLIL). Adapted from the STR dryer introduced in Vietnam, this locally manufactured hot air circulating dryer provides an alternative to traditional sun drying for farmers and small traders, thereby significantly reducing moisture-caused postharvest losses.
Led by Dr. Monjurul Alam, a team of faculty and students at BAU has developed the BAU-STR dryer over the course of six years of intensive research work modifying the design, selecting proper manufacturing materials, reducing costs, and standardizing installation and operating procedures for the dryer. As of 2021, more than 200 BAU-STR dryers are in use, enabling 4,000 smallholder farmers and traders to dry paddy, wheat, and maize. BAU has developed partnerships with private sector companies to manufacture and distribute the dryer, and the dryer has been formally included in the Government of Bangladesh’s agricultural machinery subsidy program, which opens access to millions of smallholder farmers, farmer groups, and traders. The BAU-STR dryer design is widely available and been used in India and Nepal.
Scaling & Impact
The BAU-STR dryer is a success story in innovation development and scaling for impact. Scaling success can be attributed to the variety of activities supporting the technology development process: research and development, field testing, farmer demonstration and training, building capacity of local fabricators, knowledge dissemination and close engagement with the government and private sector actors.
Training and research have been crucial to scaling the BAU-STR dryer. Since 2015, more than 1,200 farmers (336 women) and other stakeholders have received training on dryer usage, operation, and maintenance. Field visits and focus group discussions revealed that over 78% of farmers who have used the dryer have had a positive experience and benefitted from the drying. A farmer group in Mymensingh cited saving about USD 588 equivalent of paddy from rainy weather, recovering a large share of the dryer’s cost in one season.
In Bangladesh, postharvest activities such as sun drying, winnowing, and parboiling are the responsibility of women. Therefore, engaging women farmers has been a key priority for BAU. In 2019, BAU conducted a gender assessment and found that the dryer was easy for women to fix, dismantle, and operate. The BAU-STR dryer also saved women time and labor associated with sun drying, monitoring, and cleaning stored grain in households. Moreover, local women entrepreneurs have received training through women’s groups to provide fee-based drying services to the community.
Engaging Private Sector
As a key component of scaling research to practice, BAU has invested in building the capacity of local manufacturers and fabricators such as Bhai Bhai Engineering and Kamal Machine Tools to design and manufacture the BAU-STR dryers at scale for distribution to farmer organizations and other interested buyers.
In 2021, a new agreement was signed with BAU, ADI Foundation and ACI Motors Ltd. This agreement will enable ADI to coordinate and supervise local production of the BAU-STR dryer, and ACI Motors Ltd. to market the BAU-STR dryer throughout Bangladesh through their strong marketing channels and provide after-sales service through their service centers
In partnership with the Bangladesh Ministry of Agriculture’s Department of Agricultural Extension’s (DAE) Integrated Agricultural Approach for Ensuring Nutrition and Food Security project, 184 farmer organizations in six districts each received a BAU-STR dryer. BAU also provided fabrication training, technical assistance, and conducted train-the-trainer workshops for sub-assistant agricultural officers and other trainers.
Success from this initiative coupled with BAU’s policy engagement has led the BAU-STR dryer to be formally included in the government’s subsidy program with a 70% subsidy in low-lying areas and a 50% subsidy in the rest of the country in 2021. Through a new DAE mechanization project 5,000 dryers will be provided to smallholder famers by 2025.