Saturday, 13 October 2007

Another Compatible Technology at Work

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About this time every year, CTI volunteers Purnima and Bibek Ray return to Bibek's home town of Gohaldanga, West Bengal, India for approximately six months. There they are working to improve the social and economic welfare of the people in and around Gohaldanga. Part of the economic development program involves increasing the value of the potato harvest. In the past we have discussed the potato processing; in this article we report on storage opportunities.

In West Bengal, the potato harvest is large. However, due to the climatic conditions, much of the crop rots quickly before it can be eaten or processed. Purchase prices increase rapidly as the time from harvest extends. Thus, the farmers get a low value for their harvest, but business enterprises that can refrigerate or cold store the potatoes, get a higher price as time passes. Working on a CTI funded project, Bibek and Purnima have been developing, with the assistance of CTI engineers, Rustic Storage facilities for potatoes.

A Rustic Storage Unit is a brick walled, thatched roof building constructed over an open water reservoir.These Rustic Storage units, built by farmers themselves, use the concept of evaporative cooling to greatly reduce the temperature within the facility. Due to the reduced temperature, the storage life of the potato crop is greatly extended and the farmers can get a higher price for their crops.

Last year, around Gohaldanga, the potato crop was harvested in mid-February. Potatoes stored in the facility did not begin to spoil until late July. Potatoes used for sun dried chips and strings had to be processed about a month earlier. Because the good quality life cycle of the crop could be greatly extended, farmers will be able to significantly increase the value of their cash crop by as much as 300%.

Monday, 13 August 2007

CTI Travels to Sudan

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On a sunny June day in Jalimo, Sudan, Kathleen Graham, a CTI Volunteer, welcomed twenty Sudanese agricultural extension agents to the three day "Training of Trainers" technology workshop she had organized with the help of Norwegian People's Aid manager Ezana Getahun.  The goal was to transform these agents into Ewing grinder experts, so they could return to their communities and teach villagers to use and maintain the Ewing grinder. 

Before the workshop was over, each agent had to stand and demonstrate how he or she would teach others to take the grinder apart and put it together; to process peanuts, millet, sorghum, coffee, maize, sesame, cow peas and coffee; and to clean and maintain the grinder in good condition.  Homework included each participant preparing a written training plan, which was also presented to the group and critiqued!  Basic business planning, record keeping and food prep safety were also on the agenda, as NPA and CTI hope the grinders will become part of income generating activities.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Wooden Body for Omega Grinder?

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The genius of George Ewing strikes again! In response to a discussion on how we might reduce the manufacturing and shipping costs of our Omega grinders, George offered to make a wooden grinder. And, voil√°! George made this model out of oak with metal tubing for the throat of the grinder. Otherwise the body, front plate and yoke all are made of wood in place of machined aluminium castings. Although we don't have production costs for the "Woody" as yet, we believe that as much as $125 could be removed from the inventoried cost. Additionally, because the product could be shipped disassembled, some savings could be realized in the shipping.

There is also the possibility of just shipping the metal components, i.e., shaft, helix, burrs, bearings and metal throat and allowing local artisans to make their own wooden part.So many options! A few Board members are also approaching IKEA to see if there is a fit with their philanthropic outreach and/or utilizing their supply chain to make and package the parts for us. We will report more on this exciting development as it develops. In the mean time, George, thank you once again!

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