Fort Valley State University professor lands solar energy grant



A Fort Valley State University professor successfully obtained a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to pursue research using solar power in food preservation.

Dr. Cedric Ogden, assistant professor of engineering technology and Dr. Klein Ileleji, associate professor of agriculture and biological engineering at Purdue University, successfully collaborated on a $499,612 grant proposal submitted to the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). FVSU will receive $98,336 of the funds.

The grant titled, “A Collaborative Study on the Feasibility of Value-added Solar Drying of Specialty Crops for Small Growers in Georgia and Indiana,” aims to determine how farmers in both states can economically use solar powered dryers (dehydrators) to prepare their crops for shipping.

The FVSU professor, who is also an Extension engineer, said this presents a prime opportunity to develop solar drying technology for sun dried organic products that small and medium growers in both areas can benefit from such as adding value to crops and improving their shelf life. Ogden said other opportunities for small farmers using solar power include tax incentives (carbon credits), balancing year-round electricity bills and curtailing demands for fossil fuels such as oil and coal.

The grant will last three years (2017-20). Funds from the grant, dispersed annually, will aid in the purchase of equipment and materials, fund salaries for work study students and pay for research publications. Expenses for travel to meetings, workshops and Extension outreach are also covered by the grant.

“I am excited to use the funds to push FVSU Extension and promote what we’re doing here with renewable energy. I feel it will help open doors for Fort Valley to be able to collaborate with more schools such as technical or larger universities like Purdue,” Ogden said.

Moreover, Ogden said Purdue and FVSU are ideal grant partners due to the universities sharing a focus on utilizing natural resources and making agriculture more innovative. As Land-Grant Universities, both institutions provide services and educational programs to various clients in their state. This includes homemakers, small and part-time farmers, rural disadvantaged and members of the general public.

Dr. Mark Latimore Jr., FVSU’s Extension administrator, is appreciative of the FVSU-Purdue partnership and its impact on small farmers in the area. “We are excited about the collaborative research between Dr. Ogden and his colleague at Purdue University. The technology developed through their innovative research will aid small farmers in Georgia as they move produce to local markets,” Latimore said.

For more information about the grant, contact Ogden at (478) 825-6590 or e-mail ogdenc@fvsu.edu.

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