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Solar drying in Peru
Practical Action
Bruno Caracchini conducted his own market survey and found that dehydrated fruit was only
consumed by a select minority in his country, who were more inclined to live a healthy life, and that
the foreign market should be his real target. “It occurred to me to venture into the dehydrated fruit
business, but using native fruits (which are increasingly more sought after outside Peru). The
problem was that I had no knowledge about how to work with such fruits efficiently”.
Proven business
Bruno built a solar-powered
drying machine to dehydrate the
fruit, but preserving it was
proving to be the problem. This
was where the input of Practical
Action, according to Bruno
Caracchini, was fundamental. “I
was already aware of the NGO
from some publications I had
obtained at a book fair years ago
and have been a follower ever
since. I discovered the Technical
Enquiries service on the website,
and contacted Giannina Solari,
who was a great help.” Giannina
gave Bruno information about the
different antioxidant components suitable as preservatives in processing dehydrated fruit. Once he
knew which preservative and how much to use, his final product was ready within a couple of days.
He works with apples, oranges and peaches, but at the same time “we opted for a not so well-
known product like yacon (a Peruvian Tuber similar to sweet potato) which grows easily in our
highlands”, said Bruno Caracchini. This has now become his flagship product and as it contains
fructose instead of sucrose “even though it is sweet it can be consumed freely by diabetics”.
Bruno did a pilot test with his farmers; distributing samples commercially and holding tasting
sessions in shops in Lima, where he discovered that yacon was well accepted by consumers and
that many people on a diet or suffering from diabetes could be interested in the product.
Scaling up
Bruno Caracchini now needs to secure capital if his business is to succeed - he is talking to a
couple of investors who have expressed an interest and are waiting to see whether yacon grows as
quickly as expected. Nevertheless, the fact that the business is in a proven pilot stage is a great
step forward. It has not been easy, he said. “We have had to fight against plagues and pesticides
and fortunately we have
identified some small
farmers who are growing
organic crops”. As soon as
he obtains the approval of
the investors, Bruno
Caracchini is prepared to
compete. Everything is
ready; the proven pilot, the
machinery and a 200 metre
plot located in the hills to
take advantage on the
“highland promotion law”
whereby businesses located
at higher altitude pay lower