Author Archives: agribusiness

Bottled Water

The Mail & Gaurdian has reported that

In the United States, public pressure has been growing to force powerful corporations to disclose where their bottled water comes from, after research indicated that up to 40% of bottled water used tap water as its source.

While in some countries (I saw it in Senegal some years ago) the processing and bottling of unsafe tap water can can guarantee its safety, this is surely not the case in most of the USA and South Africa.

Besides the cost to the consumer bottled water has a large cost to the environment.

Making bottles to meet Americans’ demand for bottled water requires more than 17-million barrels of oil a year — enough fuel for more than a million US cars for a year — and generates more than 2,5-million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Practical Action

One good place to start to look for food and agricultural processing information is the website of Practical Action at www.practicalaction.org.

The information here is practical but is still based on a strong technical background. As well as product based information eg how to dry fruit, how to make pineapple vinegar and papaya pickle, the information includes more generic articles eg food poisoning and its prevention, building design and food quality control.

The articles generally provide process background, details to allow implementation, names of suppliers and links to other information.

Starting at http://practicalaction.org/practicalanswers/index.php?cPath=28

Links to Catagories of Information

one can navigate to a category of foods


Pickel Information

and then to specific foods

Pickled Cucumbers

at this stage there is option to give feedback and to ask questions online and the ability to download a pdf version of the information.

I would suggest we try and use this communication potential to discuss and share information and in particular localised information to expand the sometimes geographically limited info such as indredients & equipment suppliers.

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One Approach to Development through Food Processing

Some years ago SAFPP (Strengthening African Food Processing) exhibited at Technology Fairs in Kolda in the South of Senegal and Tambacounda a well known stop on the Paris Dakar Rally.

Kolda tECHNOLOGY fAIR - 2000

In what I came to see as typical West African fashion many Projects bu few Entrepreneurs were represented. As well as presenting their project they sold their products which I came to understand was the main reason for their attendence. The photos give an idea of the type of groups exhibiting (one women’s group had a male Chairperson!).

Kolda Technology Fair Exhibitor

Kolda Technology Fair Exhibitor

Oragnaisations selling at the Fair

notice that all of these are groups and not entrepreneurs!

Products at the Kolda Technology Fair

 

and the products are “artisinal” and have little chance of appealing more than commercial FMCG products sold at the fast mushrooming supermarkets in Africa.

So what level of development can we expect from such an approach?

The link of the Day

This will be a regular posting – presenting a link through a discussion of its value to me.

The Manual for Home and Farm Production of Biodiesel by SW Mathewson

A thorough but simple and well explained manual for anyone interested in Bioethenol, and who in agribusiness isn’t today.

The manual is available online at http://journeytoforever.org, and as indicated by the table of contents below is comprehensive.

Chapter Index
Chapter 1 AN OVERVIEW
Chapter 2 BASIC FUEL THEORY

Chapter 3 UTILIZATION OF ALCOHOL FUELS
Chapter 4 ETHANOL PRODUCTION – GENERAL DISCUSSION
Chapter 5 PROCESSING STEPS COMMON TO ALL MATERIALS
Chapter 6 PROCESSING STEPS SPECIFIC TO SACCHARINE MATERIALS
Chapter 7 PROCESSING STEPS SPECIFIC TO STARCHY MATERIALS
Chapter 8 PROCESSING STEPS SPECIFIC TO CELLULOSE MATERIALS
Chapter 9 YEAST AND FERMENTATION
Chapter 10 INDIVIDUAL RAW MATERIALS
Chapter 11 DISTILLATION
Chapter 12 DRYING THE ALCOHOL
Chapter 13 MASHING AND FERMENTATION EQUIPMENT
Chapter 14 DISTILLATION EQUIPMENT
Chapter 15 SOLAR STILLS
Chapter 17 PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Chapter 18 THE FUTURE

There is real detail in the manual down to understandable and practical drawings.


CONSTRUCTION OF A REFLUX COLUMN

The Blogging Revolution?

I have heard it many times – blogging & social bookmarking improves communication and sharing! I’m not so sure!

I came across Afri-Gadget’s Solar Powered Donket Cart the other day and thought it was a bit debatable so made a comment on the blog. Hoping to see this start up some kind of discussion I revisited now and then to see what arose. The answer was that everyone just carried on and no one responded – one other person agreed with my view but just made a rather harsh comment. Overall 55 comments with 7 commenting generally and only 2 responding seriously. But overall nothing was added to the issue and informed concerns about the viability apparently not considered.

Technocrati had 35 listing in the three days since the original Afri-Gadet blog but it seems that only about a third do anything other than just reproduce the picture and some of the text from the original. Those that add anything don’t seem to make any significant contribution.

There were 4 Diggs showing it was there,

One website visited  in following links  alls itself websitesreviewer.com but should really be websitescoppier as stories are just reproduced without comment.

So what is this all doing filling the WEB with duplicates, triplicates, quadruplicates …!

By the way my comment was

Are you all serious?

The current business model is to swap your battery at a battery shop where it is charged.

How can this expensive novelty compete at all and do we want to
waste all this material and effort. What about the extra feed the
donkeys need to pull this metal contraption around!
Does the user have a garage to protect the panel at night – panels have been the target of armed robbers, so using the right doors from sites as https://naborsgaragedoors.com could be really useful for this purpose.

I do appreciate the donkey-friendly harnesses but surely….

and still waiting for a comment.

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Africa & The CDM

The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) arrises from the Kyoto agreement and is essentially a mechanism that finances renewable energy projects. As part of the mechanism Designated National Authorities are established as focal points. Looking at the map below of all CDM projects Africa is clearly a looser.

Approved CDM Projects - 09/10/07

Without South Africa, there are only 5 projects in sub Saharan Africa. The dot in Mali is an error, its a Honduran project.

Africa has 33% percent of the DNAs and manages just 2.5% of the projects!

With all our talk about not wanting handouts and the massive rural energy and sanitation problems, why don’t we perform better? Maybe its because we spend our time enthusing about a one off junk windmill and how it shows how brilliant we are and leave it to the politicians to be a DNA and presumably spend their time strategising & concretising.

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Using Someone Elses Foot

The video clip below is from yesterday’s World Rugby Cup match between Ireland and Argentina.

[googlevideo=http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2286472777631771997&hl=en]

One of the penalisable rules of ruby is that it is illegal to play the ball while lying on the ground. This canny Irishman saw an Argentian leg close by and used this to play the ball.

And he got away with it!

5 km Long Beer Pipe!

The Bars in the Veltins-Arena stadium in Germany are connected by a 5 km beer pipeline. This line is connected to bars around the stadium which is fed by a central tank.

Interesting is that a 5km pipeline of just 10mm diameter, which is pretty small to pump large volumes around, would hold 400 l of beer. I have visions of the barmen having to drain the line at the end of the evening before starting to clean it and “disposing” of it!

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Super Sport – Crumby Commentries

I have really had enough – this weekend while listening to the Sharks Cheetahs game I had to switch to the Afrikaans channel! And at the time of the Super 14 & Three Nations I switched to Wrap from Down under.

This weekend’s commentary first:

  • I do not need to be told over and over again the Burden was a wing and therefore would have difficulty in throwing in
  • I detest put on roars of triiiiii
  • I dislike ” what a fantastic kick that has failed to find touch … “
  • Also he has had his “kicking boots on today” – when in fact his success rate was well below his normal
  • Dramatising everything is not the role of the comentator – adding to the watching experience of the viewer is

come on Warren , find yourself something else to do!

On Wrap From Down Under the text below was written at the time and just pasted now

I expect Boots & All have been hammered for fence sitting, but just
avoiding getting the panel members’ predictions is not the way to avoid
it.

If your commentators can’t stop with the “we really support them
and want them to win” or “my heart tells me” or “they have the talent”.
Also on last week’s programme it was quite ridiculous that the
matter of Australia’s scrumming was noted as being unacceptable but
there wasn’t a single clip to prove it and no sensible analysis.

Look at Wrap from Down Under and follow the informed analysis linked to the video and then see experts make their predictions.

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What A Garbage Strike Teaches Us

Today my problems resulting from the Tshwane Municipality’s failure (outlined in all its misery below) were solved by an entrepreneur who travelled the smelly streets of Tswhwane offering to remove garbage for a fee!

So what did I learn?

  • There are entrepreneurs in South Africa – I think this is brilliant although it cost R20
  • The Tshwane Municipality has no clue about customer care either proactively or reactively
  • The Municipality doesn’t have a toll free complaints number – it would cost them a fortune

The Story – its clearly not nitpicking.

Since at least last week Tuesday, Pretoria’s garbage has not been collected. The garbage bins stand overflowing in the streets. Driving past is an experience in stenches.

And still I have received no notification or information from the municipality. Trying to use the complaints line was farcical at the start – long waits / cut offs etc meant we were unable to get any information about why the garbage wasn’t collected.

We eventually heard from friends and saw that there was an 11/09/07 press release on the Tshwane website. This was apparently the first attempt at direct communication.

So today I tried enquiries again and had luck. Seemingly waking someone on the number from the website. When asked when I could expect my garbage to be collected, he was clearly annoyed, said he “didn’t have a clue” and rattled off a number which took several retries to allow me to get it correctly.

Now the only good bit in the story – the lady on the line was totally helpful and seemed unperturbed by what could not have been the first call of the day. I can expect my garbage to be picked up after a 10 or 11 day delay!

So what did I learn?

  • Entrepreneurship does exist amongst South Africans
  • The Municipality has made no attempt to communicate with me about the suspension of service – although they have all my contacts and a meter reader was at my house today and could have dropped a note
  • The municipality’s telephonic communication is not toll free and is really useleswith this. No company would survive with this kind of service
  • There is always a silver lining – the entrepreneur and the lady who gave me information

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