The Department of Mechanical Engineering of University of Botswana’s Faculty of Engineering and Technology (FET) on Friday commissioned one of its prototype projects – a morula mini plant machine at the faculty’s Western Campus workshop.
The machine’s commissioning was its final test before the Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS) tests it and determines its standard.
“We intended having the Botswana Bureau of Standards here in today’s testing. Unfortunately, they could not make it. But we will call them soon,” said Professor Rapelang Marumo – the project Coordinator.
The project, made for the sole use by Dibapalwanageng – a women group based in Gabane and trading on morula sweets and other morula products, was first started in 2008. According to one of the project (machine) designing team, Dr. Robert Batane, the team was especially driven by compassion to embark on it.
The women knew how to make the sweets and other products but did not have machinery. They depended on a private company- their business competitor for crushing their morula fruits for procession.
It was tough for them as they had to gather fruits, take to the company for crushing; where they were promised to share the raw pulp (mixture of morula juices) with the company but ended buying it.
They then started researching and designing the project. Then they approached the University’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) which sponsored them to the tune of P240, 000. At around the same time they approached the Small Grants Programme, Global Environment Facility (SGP/GEF) under the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for funding. Since it was environment related the program sponsored them to the tune of US$ 4, 350.
“We did a lot work with our equipment here in the campus and ultimately we did our first test on it last year. It did not immediately function so we kept modifying and working on it until it functioned. Our first test this year was on the 25th February. Today’s test was the third one and as you have seen the machine is working properly,” said Batane.
He said they are going to follow up monitoring the machine as well as provide training for the women. They will for sometime ensure that the machine is properly maintained to keep giving good results.