Inclusive Dryer Design – Better Access for Women


South Seas Commodities (SSC) is a family-owned company based in Port-Vila Vanuatu which commenced business in 2010. With a wealth of experience in the kava trade, SSC has four fulltime employees and sources their kava from rural households on Pentecost Island.

SSC’s vision is to export superior quality kava. It produces kava products from raw materials which are sourced from sustainable, local farms that follow good agricultural practices.

The quality of kava in Vanuatu is lowered because of a lack of proper drying facilities such as solar dryers. Poorly dried kava products are time-consuming to process, translating to loss of income for SSC. The company has designed a n inclusive solar dryer that will improve the quality of kava and can be easily accessed by women who play a key role in the value chain.

What we are doing: After a review, the dryers being used in kava production were not effective and were designed in a way that women and young people found them difficult to use, thereby limiting their participating in the value chain.

SSC worked with their farmer networks to design a basic solar dryer based on models being trialled in other parts of the world. This new model is simple to build and cheap, costing approximately AUD 1,850 per dryer. This low-cost model will enable farmers to contribute to the cost of the dryers and to eventually own them outright. The solar dryer will be made available to all farmers on Pentecost who are willing to contribute towards the cost of construction.

Using the train-the-trainer model, with support from PHAMA Plus, SSC will train farmers and buying agents on proper methods of constructing the dryers and correct drying technique to improve the quality of kava which SSC is currently buying. The training will focus on the different roles of men, women and youth in kava processing.  The training is supported to develop and enhance village level quality and safe hygiene practices in key kava planting areas. Phase 1 will see 20 dryers set up with 20 farming households. Farmers will contribute 20% of the cost of the dryers, with the remainder of the cost contributed by SSC (40%) and PHAMA Plus (40%).

Next steps: Solar dryer installation and training will commence in April 2021.

For more information, please contact PHAMA Plus Senior National Facilitator Rebecca Bogiri on

Read more on PHAMA Plus’ work in Vanuatu HERE

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