Board member Camille George traveled to Mali last month to explore several projects that could utilize technologies developed by CTI. Working with Aissata Thera, a senior scientist at the Institute Economique Rurale, IER, (the Malian equivalent of the USDA) and Sidy Ba, a hydraulics professor at the Institute Polytechnic Rurale, IPR, (University of Bamako’s Institute of Agriculture), the simple pearl millet hand-stripping device developed by CTI volunteers Don Kuether, Erv Lentz and Rolfe Leary was demonstrated in two Malian villages. The women were genuinely interested in the simple time saving device and offered many constructive comments to help develop an even better design.

Camille also met with Dr. Eva Weltzien, Principal Investigator for ICRISAT. Dr. Weltzien is interested in developing new varieties of pearl millet and sorghum and in increasing the consumption of locally produced grains in Mali’s urban areas. Collaboration between ICRISAT/ Mali, IER, IPR, CTI and the University of St. Thomas’ Chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World, UST-ESW, is currently being explored.

A second project explored the possibility of growing seed potatoes in Mali. At this time, Mali imports all of its seed potatoes from Europe. IER will try CTI’s evaporative cooling potato storage technology this winter to store several varieties of seed potatoes through their dormant period. Growing seed potatoes would greatly increase Mali’s food security.

Published in West Africa

Jim Sentz, a CTI volunteer, visited Uganda and Zimbabwe during the fall of 2007.  This multi-faceted tour was planned with respect to Jim’s previous professional experiences in Africa, and more recently as a CTI Volunteer and former Africa Committee Chair.  His agenda was to observe economic and humanitarian development activities as pursued by Christian missions, international organizations and local entities.  He wanted to better understand the potential for CTI technologies and how they may contribute most toward economic and social development in the region.  A Kenyan travel guide perhaps expressed it best in his suggestion to “experience the people.”   Jim expressed “it is a challenge for us to more fully appreciate and consider the perspectives of those whom we would assist, if we are truly going to help enhance their economic and social welfare.”

In Uganda, Jim visited with both Baljit Singh of JBT (the machine shop that manufactures the Ewing grinder in Kampala) and AT-Uganda representatives (an NGO) with respect to production and distribution of the Ewing grinder.  He also explored further contacts at Makerere University in Food Science & Technology and Engineering departments with specific reference to groundnut processing, and solar dehydration technologies and to gain a better understanding of their small-scale technology industry.

In Zimbabwe, Jim visited with Tunga Rukuni, Director of University of Zimbabwe Development Technology Center (DTC), and his staff with particular reference to their evaluation of Omega VI and Ewing III grinders provided by CTI in June 2007.  Jim also discussed grinder production issues in Zimbabwe, grinder competition, promotion and distribution and the over arching impact of exorbitant inflation amid collapse of their economy.

Published in East Africa

While much has been said and written about the emerging economy of India, there continues to be a bleak level of poverty in many areas of the country. Last November, CTI volunteers Nancy and Steve Laible helped expand CTI’s reach to “the other India”. There is a continuing need to help the parts of India that have high rates of illiteracy, a lack of electricity in the homes and millions of people existing on less than two dollars per day.

Nancy and Stevestoppedin Mumbai on their way to their primary nutrition project in Bangladesh. Fellow CTI volunteer, Shiv Murty, had made arrangements for Nancy and Steve to meet contacts at the Indian Institute of Technology – Bombay. The Institute has a Center for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas (CTARA). CTI and CTARA have a lot in common regarding a mission of helping the poor with appropriate and compatible technology.  The visit had a two-fold purpose. First, Nancy and Steve presented a seminar on CTI grinder technology at the Institute. The seminar was attended by IIT faculty, research associates and graduate students. A second purpose was to transport and transfer an Omega VI grinder to the Yusuf Meherally Centre (YMC), an India based NGO that works directly with the poor of “the other India”.

CTARA and YMC have invited CTI to join them in expanding the technologies that are available to the poor in India. The visit by the Laibles is a first step in what is hoped will be an on-going collaboration with the goal of expanding the availability of CTI post harvest technologies in the areas of potato processing and grinder technology to more parts of India.

Nancy and Steve report that one of the real joys of the trip was to visit one of the YMC project sites about 40 miles east of Mumbai. Their YMC host, Haresh Shah, had made arrangements for a grinder and peanut butter demonstration with enterprise workers at Tara Village. It was amazing to see the delight in the eyes of the villagers as they discussed the ways they might use a grinder. A CTI Omega VI grinder has been added to the inventory of food processing equipment at the village enterprise. In the photos aboce, Nancy is sharing peanut butter samples with the village women.  The grinder will initially be used for training and food processing research. The research efforts will receive technical support from the CTARA group at IIT-Bombay. The women shown in the picture will soon have the training and capability to make their own peanut butter.  Continuing this three party collaboration will be a major focus of the CTI Asia Committee during the next year.

Published in India
Saturday, 15 December 2007

Profile of a CTI Volunteer

Erv Lentz, a member of CTI’s Board of Directors and very active shop volunteer was awarded our “Volunteer of the Year Award” at the October Board Meeting. When asked to send in a few comments for this bio Erv sent a four-page history! Clearly Erv is proud of his life – and he should be.

College life, sports, ROTC, leadership of many volunteer organizations, entrepreneurship, engineering, corporate creativity, energy, initiative, family, faith – all come forward to mark a well-rounded volunteer. Around CTI Erv can be found on any given day making “something” in the shop, or fixing a shelf in the office, or shopping for a needed tool, or sharing experiences. Erv’s contributions to CTI’s mission and governance are huge. In recognizing him as volunteer of the year we join the thousands of people who have benefited from Erv’s touch to say, “Well Done. Thanks!”

Published in Newsletter
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