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by الجمعية الخيرية الإسلامية بنجع الدار
Sugarcane farmers in Egypt used to burn the waste, mainly the dry leaves, resulting from harvesting the crop in the fields. They justify that by the importance of clearing the land after harvesting the crop to remove harmful pests. The problem is that the burning process causes significant environmental damage and thus the state is trying to stop this phenomenon in various ways and seek alternative solutions. And here comes the role of mechanical engineers, agricultural engineers and environment experts to provide an effective solution to stop farmers from burning these dry leaves and instead use them to produce other useful materials following the lead of many countries around the world now.
A reward of 20,000 EGP provided by the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology will be given for the implementation of the best solution, in collaboratio with the Charitable Islamic Association in Naga' Al Dar, Luxor. Please read below for the full details!
Sugarcane is considered one of the most important crops, not only in Egypt but also in several countries all over the world, for it being the main source of a strategic product, namely as sugar, as well as for its use in many other food products and pharmaceuticals. It is also the most widespread crop in Upper Egypt as it occupies a huge area of about 300,000 acres serviced by around 600,000 farmers and supplying 8 major factories. These factories employs more than 35,000 workers.
Despite these great benefits, the mismanagement of the sugarcane waste that results from the harvesting process, by burning it, leads to huge environmental pollution among other problems as the figure below shows. This led a number of ecological and civil associations to raise concerns to stop such practices and eliminate its bad effects.
By the end of 2016, the government endeavored to find solutions to benefit from the sugarcane waste to avoid having it burned and reduce the resulting environmental pollution. The Ministry of Environment launched a scheme targeting 200,000 acres of sugar cane, where each acre produces about 2.5 tons of waste (dry leaves). Using specialized equipment, it was likely to convert 500,000 tons of sugarcane waste into organic stock feed and fertilizers, which could result in extra income to farmers as well as a radical solution to all damage caused by burning it. However, given the difficulty of making such machines available, their high cost, and farmers' insufficient awareness of the problem full aspects, the desired results were not achieved.
The continuous decline in the average agricultural holdings: These agriculture holdings in Egypt decreased from 6 acres in 1939 to 2.8 acres in 2000, while the holdings of less than five acres makes 88% of the total number of holdings in Egypt. This made it economically non-viable to purchase and own large machinery, which are mainly imported from abroad, beside the logistical difficulty of renting such machines from agricultural associations and other entities, according to small farmers.
The lack of an environmental friendly and economically viable solution for farmers, especially the smaller holders, to benefit from the sugarcane waste.
The lack of awareness on the bad ecological effects caused by burning the sugarcane waste and the potential resulting from recycling it to make fertilizers and stock feed thus earning an extra income.
This challenge seeks an effective solution by mechanical engineers, agricultural engineers, and researchers to design an innovative machine with a small capacity and low cost to help farmers collect and grind the sugarcane dry leaves in the fields. The proposed solution should meet the following requirements:
- Small capacity, compared with the other machines available in the market, ease of maneuvering, and affordability especially by small famers.
- Environmental friendliness
- Simplicity and ease of operation such that farmers can get to operating it with relative ease.
Reward & Conditions:
A reward of 20,000 L.E. provided by the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology will be provided to the best solution to implement it in collaboration with Charitable Islamic Association, in addition to, marketing services for the solution, according to the following conditions:
The solution should be in the form of a proof of concept or prototype;
The solution should include a clear plan of action including implementation stages, timeline, required tools/materials, estimated budget, technical support required (if applicable), and cost of the unit in case of manufacturing 100 units;
The reward will be given in installments, in accordance to milestones set by the innovator(s) according to their plan of action;
The reward includes funding of the prototype;
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