Drying Dates Using Solar Energy Under Polycaronate House -New Promising Technology to Dry Dates in Oman
Al Shoaili, Khaled
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In Oman, date palm is the primary agricultural crop, and it constitutes 80% of all fruit crops produced and 50 % of the total agricultural area in the country (FAO, 2013). Oman is the eighth largest producer of dates in the world with an average annual production of 260,000 tons per annum. There are approximately more than over seven million date palms and 250 cultivars in cultivation, primarily in the northern governorates of the sultanate. Only half of the dates produced are used for human consumption, with the other half being utilized primarily for animal feed or considered surplus and wasted (Al-Yahyai and Khan, 2015). The loss is high and estimated to more than 30% of the production. Given the variability in the topographic and climatic growing conditions, the date palm production season extends from May to November, the longest season of the date production. In the region of Al Batina, major production is soft and semi-soft dates. For conservation it need to dry fruits. Traditional way of drying date is makes under the sun and dates are exposed to dust, birds and insects. A series of experiments have been conducted to identified the appropriate technical specifications and dimensions of the drying houses to increase their efficiency. Drying dates inside plastic room was performed for the first time to ameliorate drying process. The quantity of dates to dry was limited and the colour was affected because limited aeration of the small plastic houses. Drying dates by solar energy under Polycarbonate Drying House (PDH) is developed by the project. The PDH is a drying chamber cover by polycarbonate sheet equipped by exhaust fan. The polycarbonate sheet has superior properties in terms of transparency, transmissivity, property, anti-corrosion, tensile properties, tear-resistant, anti-puncture, water and moisture proof. The present paper present results of assessment in research station using one of the main important date palm cultivar (Khasab) compared with one other seedling selection, Economic evaluation of PDH with farmers in Sultanate of Oman and prediction of adoption of the technology in the Omani conditions.