The local oven is used to better preserve cassava, eru, plantains amongst others by drying.
Post-harvest loses was and is still a preoccupying issue in the agriculture sector. Not only are farm produce lost shortly after harvest, but they are also lost in the long term due to poor conservation methods, given that rural farmers do not master the techniques of conserving tubers like cassava, coco yams and plantains. It is for this reason that Louis Djilemo came up with the innovative oven, “Four Djilemo” which serves in the conservation of local foodstuffs so as to avoid post-harvest loses.
Drying under the sun as a conservation method is good, but the inventor, who happens to be an agric-technician and an international consultant and expert in tropical agriculture, says using the oven for drying is ideal. The Djilemo oven has the advantage that it avoids dust, insects and other impurities that infiltrates into the crop like eru during traditional drying method using the sun. Drying under the sun further has the disadvantage of rendering the crop nasty and reduces its nutritive quality. More so, drying under the sun is not so reliable especially during the rainy season. With the Djilemo Oven, farmers and enterprises are sure of properly dried farm produce all-round the year. The oven, according to its inventor adds value to the dried produce and is free of smoke since the items does not come into contact with smoke. More so, the oven uses bio energy like charcoal and dry cassava peelings.
The Oven which was initially conceived to contain 10 layers has been improved upon over time to now contain 24 layers that can take up to 350 kgs of tubers. The drying time has been reduced also though it differs from one crop to another. Eru for instance takes less than two hours to get dried while plantains and cassava take four and five hours respectively. The only short coming is that the oven is not within the reach of the ordinary man given that the price ranges from FCFA 2 million and FCFA 4.5 million depending on its size. People need to come together in groups or cooperatives in order to be able to afford it.
The invention won a price during a regional workshop to share innovative experiences in Central and West Africa, organised by FIDA in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in 2008. The oven also attracted international recognition during an international conference of sharing innovative agro business solutions in 2008, organised by UNIDO in Cairo Egypt.