Engineers at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Ghana have built a solar-powered cocoa pod breaker to ease the work of farmers.
The team of engineers from the Mechanical Engineering department say the equipment also comes with a separation unit which helps address cocoa beans damage, one of the main challenges with the cocoa beans extraction process, Daily Graphic reported.
The safe removal of cocoa beans from the pod is a crucial step process in the cocoa value chain.
The labour-intensive activity of splitting the pods to harvest the beans has for generations been done manually.
“This machine will avert fatigue, risk of injury and damage to the beans, low productivity through the use of machete”, the Provost of the College of Engineering, Professor Mark Adom-Asamoah said.
He observed that the College’s cocoa pod breaker is very efficient and it is able to split 60 cocoa pods per minute.
“It can separate 97 per cent of the beans from the pod”, he said and added that its efficiency has significantly improved from earlier versions they designed.
According to him, the machine is made up of two conveyors with loaders and two blades (one at the top and the other at the base), and that the load is run by a prime mover.
A demonstration showed once the pods are pushed between the blades, they are split into two halves.
The pod husk then falls into a separator and the beans are also directed through an exit chamber into a collection receptacle ready for fermentation.
Prof Adom-Asamoah is hopeful the machine would soon be mass-produced to serve the needs of the country’s cocoa farmers.
The KNUST solar-powered cocoa pod breaker was among a number of innovations by the College of Engineering exhibited at the 9th KNUST Summer School organised under the theme ‘SDGs and Universities: Action Towards KNUST’s Mandate at 70 and Beyond’.
The 4-day programme, held in a collaboration with Clean-Africa e.V, a German NGO, was expected to help tackle a number of national issues and make recommendations for national development.