SunGari: A modern solar cooking solution for African staples

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Partners

Project coordinator: Aditya Parmar, Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, UK

Project partners:

Main topic addressed: Clean cooking and biomass transformation

Aim of SunGari

The SunGari project aims to develop Modern Energy Cooking Service (MECS) based on solar cooking (photovoltaics and concentrated solar power) for Gari processing in West Africa.

Background

Gari, a gelatinized dry granulated cassava product, is a staple food for millions of West Africans Cassava is a classic food security crop due to its resistance to various biotic and abiotic stresses (including low-fertility soils) and that can be harvested when needed. However, once harvested, cassava roots deteriorate rapidly (shelf life of 1-2 days). Hence, processing into Gari provides a convenient, safe, and storable staple food. Gari processing is primarily in the hands of women, and it is produced at the household level, domestic village-based industry, small cooperatives, and enterprises. Roasting, the final step of Gari processing, requires a large amount of firewood and results in exposure to particulate matter and heat stress to women and children, causing significant health and environmental issues.

With more than 700 million people in Africa not having access to modern energy cooking services and all the Gari produced in West Africa relying on firewood or fossil fuels at the household and small enterprise level, there is a real need for clean and modern cooking solutions.

About the project:

The SunGari project explores promising technological options: photovoltaics (PV) and Scheffler solar concentrators. The project team investigates and compares these solutions during the project to provide the best option for gari makers.

The SunGari consortium consists of multidisciplinary team members from four countries, including food engineers, solar technology experts, agricultural engineers, crop science experts, social scientists, and commercial industry partners, all committed to the progress of the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7.1 target—ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.

The project will in particular result in the creation of a SunGari Startup that will be incubated at the Business incubation centre of the University of Lomé, Togo. Indeed there is a real potential for replication considering that the SunGari technological approach will be highly scalable and transferable to other countries in the region to process different staple food based on maize, yam, plantain, and sweet potato.

Expected Results

The project tasks are divided into six work packages (WP), which include: WP1: Optimized process requirement for transforming grated, dewatered, and fermented cassava mash (dry matter ~50%) into Gari (dry matter content of > 90%). WP2-3: Technical analysis of concentrated solar power (CSP), PV thermal and PV electric technologies to provide necessary heat and electricity for the Gari process. WP4-5: Design, construct, demonstration, and piloting of three types of Gari roasting devices. WP6: Project coordination and dissemination. Specific expected results include:

  • Increased productivity in the informal sector
  • Food preservation and reduced post harvest losses
  • GHG emissions, local pollution, and deforestation reduced
  • Gender equity and reduced drudgery for girls and women
  • Individual and public health improved
  • New employment creation and increased productivity of rural industries
  • Local capacity building and awareness of clean energy
  • SunGari Startup Business incubation centre at Uni Lome, Togo