This paper assesses the relative costs and benefits of desiccant beads drying/hermetic storage and alternative drying and storage technologies. The study was conducted in Kenya and Tanzania in areas producing and trading vegetable seeds using a sample size of 280 respondents. The study revealed that costs of desiccant bead drying/hermetic storage are relatively higher for smaller quantities of seeds compared to alternative technologies. No storage losses are incurred with hermetic storage but high losses occur for ordinary storage. Using a combination of desiccant bead drying and hermetic storage is relatively more economical compared to using desiccant drying alone. There are economies of scale in the use of desiccant bead drying/hermetic storage compared to alternative technologies. Quantities of seeds that generate equal net benefits for both desiccant bead/hermetic storage and sun drying/ordinary storage range from 120 to 900 kg for African night shade and Amaranthus, and 300 to 1500 kg for beans. Efficiency in production and marketing is likely to encourage the use of desiccant bead drying/hermetic storage, which would be beneficial to farmers. Taking 15 kg of African night shade seeds and 18 kg of Amaranthus seeds, price premiums that would be necessary for farmers to receive for there to be an economic incentive for them to use the beads are approximately 35% for Amaranthus and 20% for the African night shade. Given efficiency of desiccant bead drying/hermetic storage it is likely to offer more benefits to farmers and traders compared to sun drying and other storage technologies.
Key words: Drying, storage, desiccant beads, moisture content, costs and benefits.
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