A Heat Pump Dryer for KNC

posted in: Project News, Blog

This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)

Help Rebuild after a Fire Accident destroyed KNC Processing Unit

By KNC Zhemgang

Unfortunately, on 16th February 2024, the processing plant of Khengrig Namsum Cooperative (KNC) burnt down to ashes by accidental fire. KNC lost its processing building, equipment, and entire turmeric powder stock.

KNC processing plant burned down to ashes after an accidental fire.

After the fire, all the machines was destroyed including the entire turmeric harvest.







Zhemgang in a Nutshell

Zhemgang district , also known as Khengrig Namsum, is located in Central Bhutan with agricultural crops growing at an altitude range of 250 to 2000 masl. The people of Zhemgang cultivate cereals and cash crops to enhance their livelihoods but endure heavy crop damages by wild animals. Additionally poor market outlets limit their income generation.

Ever since 2014, Khengrig Namsum Cooperative (KNC) has been working closely with the farmers and successfully created an alternative market for agricultural products. KNC has been purchasing fresh vegetables, spices, fruits, and eggs from the farmers to supply schools and even to process them into pickles, dried chips and powder for local and export markets.

Export of Turmeric and other Plans

For the year 2024, KNC has plans to export 20 MT Turmeric Powder to Europe and South East Asia, to substitute 5MT turmeric powder import from India, to produce 1 MT dried bamboo shoot for the local market, dry Mandarin peel for market trial in Switzerland, and fruits like banana, papaya and passion fruits for the local market. Those activities are planned in collaboration with more than 250 members where in all 8 blocks of the district. Another aim is to launch the extraction and export of Avocado oil in the future.

Why the Heat Pump Dryer

To successfully implement the planned activities, the most critical equipment required is a multi purpose Heat Pump Dryer which can dry 1200kg within 24hrs. The heat pump drying efficiency is 95 % compared to the conventional hot air dryers of 30-40%. Furthermore, this heat pump dryer is more appropriate because of its closed drying system where there is no mixing with fresh ambient air. The night temperature of ambient air at the KNC factory falls as low as 0°C in the winter which demands for more heating. Furthermore the relative humidity reaches as high as 100 % in the summer which increases drying time resulting in high energy consumption in the case of conventional hot air dryers.

The heat pump dryer can be used for drying turmeric and mandarin peel from December to April, for drying bamboo shoot and avocado pulp from August to November and for drying fruits like banana, papaya and passion fruits throughout the year.

With a heat pump dryer in place, the production costs of processed products can be reduced remarkably and the products can be competitive both in the local and international market. The lowest quoted cost of this 1200kg capacity heat pump dryer is around USD 15,500 (including transport costs).






With the heat pump drier, the collaborative farmers of KNC are expected to generate roughly USD 3000 as annual income, which could tremendously improve their livelihoods. With this successful startup, KNC is expecting to involve more collaborative farmers and gradually all farmers of the district resulting in the reduction of poverty through income generation enhancement. Together, the growth of KNC will be sustainable and produces competitive value-added products for both local and international markets.

We have set up a GoFundMe Fundraiser (in German language) to help KNC to collect the necessary funds.