Drying onions in Mali
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CTA. 1993. Drying onions in Mali. Spore 43. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/45923
Onions are the most important cash crop for farmers of the Dogon Plateau. Of the total grown only 1% are consumed by the growers themselves. The harvest period lasts from early December to the end of April and peaks at the end of February. During...
Onions are the most important cash crop for farmers of the Dogon Plateau. Of the total grown only 1% are consumed by the growers themselves. The harvest period lasts from early December to the end of April and peaks at the end of February. During the harvest period the price of fresh onions fluctuates considerably. The average price paid per kilogramme at the beginning of December is 150 FCFA compared to 35 FCFA at peak production time. Preserving onions by drying is a long-establishe practice among the Dogon. During drying, a fermentation occurs which gives the onions a special flavour. Because of this flavour they are used more as a spice than as a fresh onion substitute. Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) have been looking into various methods by which fresh onions could be dried without fermentation. The method chosen had to be usable in the villages, be operable without auxiliary power and be an addition to rather than a replacement of the traditional method. Several experimental processes were tried using a tunnel system but results were not satisfactory until an open air rack system was developed. Each wooden rack is covered with fine mesh on the bottom and sides and has feet that allow the racks to stack on top of each other. The onions are skinned before slicing and the slices spread out on the racks. The racks are placed side-byside on the first day but are subsequently stacked, no more than ten high, to ensure stability. While drying, the onions are carefully loosened up once a day to improve aeration. The racks are easily made and maintained by local farmers and the onion slicing machines are made by local blacksmiths. The dried onions are now being sold in Mali, Ivory Coast and Senegal. Tomatoes and cabbages have also been dried experimentally on the racks. GTZ Postfach 5180 D-6236 Eschborn GERMANY