Categories: Start-upsTech

The Fonio Husking Machine – An Innovative Machine From Senegal Helping Farmers Process Drought-Hardy Crop

The Fonio Husking Machine – An Innovative Machine From Senegal Helping Farmers Process Drought-Hardy Crop

Every now and then we are bombarded with news from main stream media about the devastating effects from Global Warming. Perhaps what is scarier is how Africa does very little in terms of contributing to carbon emission but stands at the greatest risks of pioneering in receiving the most severe effects of Global Warming. The industrialized nation to whom much responsibility for this menace lie, take very little steps or no steps at all towards measure to curb Global Warming.

Previously Innov8tiv Magazine has brought you various ways African nations are mitigating the effects of Global Warming. Innov8tiv Magazine has featured Rice Farming Mitigation of Global Warming and today will feature how Senegalese are able to mass produce Fonia food crop which is part of the stable grain in West Africa. This Fonia food crop is advantageous since it performs well in drought and poor soil condition, a phenomenon attributed to the Global Warming “big picture”. Fonia is said to be very rich in protein, iron and fiber which means it supplies the population with good nutrients even in the harshest climatic condition thereby going a long way in curbing global hunger, another phenomenon attributed to Global Warming.

But one discouraging thing about the Fonia food crop is that its grains are very tiny thus making the difficult to remove its brittle outer shell referred to as the husk. As you would expect, the womenfolk are the ones tasked with this daunting responsibility of removing the husk and they do it manually: a very painstaking slow process. The traditional mechanism the womenfolk use was mixing the grain with sand, and taking the mixture plus pound and thresh it using pestle and mortar then later washing away the sand. This process was ineffective, plus it took too much time and it  required a lot of labor. In the long run the demand could not meet the supply since preparing the Fonio flour was too slow.

That was until one Senegalese mechanical engineer named Sanoussi Diakité came up with an innovative machine powered by either electricity or thermal energy that is capable of removing husks from 5Kgs of Fonio under 8 minutes. Mr. Diakité innovative machine came in at 3rd place in the 2013 African Innovation Prize overall awards, leading under the Social Impact category. Mr. Diakité first developed his machine back in 1993 during his free time while he was still a high school teacher teaching in Dakar and used his own funds to build the prototype with the help of his students.

Mr. Diakité’s machine takes the tedious task of husking Fonio into an 8 minute process of husking 5Kgs of Fonio, achieving quite a great height in terms of effectiveness and efficiency, hence the supply of Fonio can easily meet if not surpass the demand of Fonio. This would go a long way towards securing Senegal’s food security and West Africa at large, where Fonio is a stable food. Senegalese womenfolk have been husking manually the Fonio crop, but with Mr. Diakité’s machine they can husk as much as 50Kgs of Fonio in every hour, compare this to the conventional norm of one woman husking 1-2Kgs of Fonio in every hour, and while at it using 15 liters of water when washing away the sand. Please note that water is fast becoming a luxury in this harsh climatic conditions brought about by Global Warming.

Mr. Diakité is currently seeking for more funds to produce this “life-saver” machine that he has since patented. His invention earned him the Rolex Award for Applied Technology back in 1996 and in the year 2008, The Tech Awards christened him a laureate under the Health Award Category. Currently Mr. Diakité’s machine is being used in several nations across Africa, reintroducing Fonio cultivation in places it was abandoned all together due to the painstaking manual process of husking it.

Milicent Atieno

Proud Kenyan Citizen, loving everything Tech related.

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