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Solar-Powered Crop-Drying Startup Forms East Africa Distribution
Indiana Ag Connection - 12/13/2019

JUA Technologies International, a Purdue University-affiliated startup developing solar-powered crop-drying devices, is partnering with BrazAgro Ltd., a supplier of Brazilian farm machinery, to distribute its solar-drying tray.

Dehytray is a solar-drying solution for small and mid-size growers and food processors and home gardeners. Its convenient size and ease of use are backed by years of research into drying technology. It is durable, approved for food use, and designed for optimum drying of foods using natural solar energy. It is designed for drying grains, fruit, vegetables, fish, meat and more.

The company was co-founded by the husband-wife team of Klein Ileleji, a professor in agricultural and biological engineering at Purdue, and Reiko Habuto Ileleji, a Purdue alumna who earned her PhD from Purdue's College of Education.

When they visited Nairobi during the summer to demonstrate the Dehytray at the 6th Agritec Exhibition and Congress, they received immense interest in the product from local farmers and processors, who quickly realized its benefits to the profitability of their operations.

Securing distributors across wide-ranging regions, four continents and counting, is a challenging endeavor. The company implemented this partnership with BrazAgro, which will distribute the trays in Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

Throughout East Africa, the Dehytray will be used to dry specialty crops like leafy green vegetables, okra, mango, bananas, guava, tubers such as cassava and sweet potato, coffee, and grains, among other food products. The Dehytray meets a high hygienic standard for sun drying of crops, is quite portable, and can be adapted into a wide range of processing operations for the farm or small to mid-size processor.

The Dehytray was developed at Purdue's agricultural and biological engineering program. The research was funded partly by USAID and USDA. Field tests on drying specialty (horticultural) crops and grains using the Dehytray have been carried out in the U.S., Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Kenya, South Africa and Peru. The Dehytray has been shipped to customers on four continents since it became available on the market in December 2018.

Some of the technology used by JUA Technologies International is licensed through the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization. JUA Technologies also received entrepreneurial support from the Purdue Foundry.

The mission of JUA Technologies is to positively impact lives worldwide by improving food security and profitability in small grower agriculture. The company's initial product, the Dehytray, harnesses renewable solar energy to dehydrate fresh foods into high quality, shelf-stable food products for local consumption or export.

The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Established in 1930, the foundation accepts gifts; administers trusts; funds scholarships and grants; acquires property; protects Purdue's intellectual property; and promotes entrepreneurial activities on behalf of Purdue. The foundation manages the Purdue Foundry, Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization, Purdue Research Park and Purdue Technology Centers. The foundation received the 2019 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Place from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

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