India is a vast country containing almost 17.7% of the world’s total population. That’s about 1.38 billion people and yet still ranks as second to China. With that many mouths to feed and many people to educate, you can expect that there will be issues in the food supply, waste management, and energy production.

In Indore, the biggest metropolitan in central India, Padmashri Janak Palta McGilligan leads the celebration of Jimmy McGilligan Memorial Week. Among the events, the demonstration of solar cooking is featured.  Solar farmers gather and tell tales of their journey in order to create awareness of alternative ways of cooking amidst the ongoing energy crisis.

What are Solar Cookers and Solar Dryers?

Before we go deeper into how the people in Indore have adopted solar cooking, let us first understand what a solar device and a solar cooker are.

Most people confuse between a solar dryer and a solar cooker. However, the former is for drying only and the amount of heat may not be that controllable. It is a simple device that uses sunlight to dry substances.

There are 2 types: direct solar dryer and indirect solar dryer. Direct solar dryer utilizes exposure to evaporate the water content of the substance while the indirect solar dryer heats the surrounding air first. The substance is then passed through a confined space to dry.

On the other hand, a solar cooker is a cooking device that directly harnesses sunlight to heat the ingredients. Nevertheless, a solar cooker is designed such that it can manipulate the degree of exposure.

So far, there are more than 300 designs of solar cookers and numerous solar components available out there. Some are suited for activities like camping while others are as powerful as the standard stoves that use gas or electricity. There are also solar cookers for large-scale purposes wherein they can be used to cook food for hundreds of individuals.

The Journey of Indore Solar Farmers

The Indore farmers have been resourceful enough in building their own solar dryers. Varun Raheja from Indore shares how they learned to build a solar dryer and how they use it for drying fruits and vegetables. Retired Colonel Anurag Shukla and his wife Archana Shukla also expounded on the benefits of solar cookers and dryers to the environment.

The events, which are conducted each day online wherein, will involve certain individuals sharing their journeys to the viewers. They will also be allowed to do some demonstrations for the viewers.

How Indore Farmers Use of Solar dryers

The farmers explained the solar dryer’s importance in drying crops, fruits, the and vegetables. Here are some examples wherein the device is applicable:

  • Coriander
  • Chilies
  • Pepper
  • Mangoes
  • Turmeric
  • Sapota
  • Bitter gourd
  • Potato
  • Banana
  • Grapes
  • Carrot
  • Papaya amla
  • Beetroot

Aside from those, they also make use the solar dryers for herbs and other plants that can be useful for alternative medicine. Examples of such are:

  • Seeds
  • Tulsi
  • Cashew
  • Tea leaves
  • Neem
  • Paddy
  • Mushroom
  • Marine food
  • Tobacco
  • Coffee beans
  • Wheat


Solar cooking is very useful in places where there is much exposure time to sunlight. India is close to the equator and it is expected that the majority of its climate is hot. Along with the issues concerning energy supply and environmental care, solar cooking can be of great help both to society and the environment.

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