Solar Powered Agricultural Equipment for Rural Farmers
Farafena Health Inc. / BST
Vancouver BC Canada and Tabacoro, Sikasso, Mali
In West Africa, women farmers grow, reap, thresh and de-hull fonio grain.
“Fonio is grown in tropical climates with a marked dry season, average temperatures of 25
30°C and rainfall between 900 and 1000 mm. As most traditional cereals, fonio is produced in traditional systems with little or no external inputs and fits perfectly into the low-input traditional farming systems of resource-poor African farmers. In semi-arid zones, the land used for fonio cultivation represents 12% of the total land used in the rotation system after millet and sorghum and 23% of the total land used in sub-humid zones after maize, sorghum and rice.”
99% of all fonio is produced by women farmers. Fonio is a indigenous grass-grain that grows very well in marginal lands. It requires NO irrigation, NO chemical inputs (herbicide, pesticides) and is gluten free, high in protein. It is rich in important essential amino acids that are not found in wheat, rice, maize, or sorghum—such as methionine, leucine, valine and cysteine, which help synthesize protein. There are vast tracts of marginal lands that can potentially grow fonio and that require only seasonal rain.
“Fonio harvesting and post-harvesting handling are reported to be the major constraints for its utilization. The extremely small size of the grain leads to tedious and time-consuming post-harvest dehulling and cooking processes. From field to consumption, most of the activities are manually performed, making harvesting and post-harvest activities more laborious and time-consuming. Women could spend for example 2 hours to manually dehull only 2 kg of fonio and will use up to 400 litres of water to repeatedly wash only 25 kg of fonio.” A few appropriate technologies have been developed to automate threshing and dehulling but this requires expenditures for fossil fuel powered equipment. Fonio is a sustainable indigenous crop and can become a leader in alleviating malnutrition throughout sub saharan Africa, West African and beyond.
- limited access to economical and sustainable agricultural mechanization has hindered the development of the fonio supply chain.
- Cost of fossil fuels for powering equipment and capital costs are high
- Historical difficulty in processing fonio
We propose a solution that is aligned with BOTH the “RURAL TRANSFORMATION AND ZERO HUNGER” and the “SUSTAINABLE ENERGY CHALLENGE” challenges. We propose expanding clean energy production and usage at a village level while at the same time mechanize the unique challenges behind the fonio production value-chain.
- Agricultural processing equipment that can operate on solar charged, swappable batteries.
- ‘plug and play’ standard (agnostic) configuration rechargeable battery
- Standard simple charging technology that can be interfaced with any solar PV system.
- Expand the benefits of solar energy battery swapping technology
- Reduce labour inputs economically in fonio production.