Small dairy farms, which form the bulk of milk producers, are suffering from low production as a result of lack of cooling systems and animal feeds.
Now, researchers at Germany’s University of Hohenheim have developed solar-powered milk cooling refrigerators for small dairy farmers.
The university is carrying out trials of the new cooling system with optimised animal feeding at Sam Malanga Co-operative Society in Siaya County in western Kenya and the Sidi Bouzid region in central Tunisia, to adapt it to local conditions.
The University of Hohenheim said the goal is to support an integrated value chain as raw milk under warm climatic conditions can exceed maximum bacterial count after two to five hours, leading to poor quality and rejection.
“In Tunisia, 85 per cent of farmers have fewer than 10 cows and access to the market is frequently restricted,” said Professor Joachim Müller of the university’s Agricultural Engineering in Tropics and Subtropics Department.
Cooling retains milk quality and ensures premium prices. It enables higher production as farmers can milk cows twice a day. Processors charge a premium for better tasting dairy products chilled from farm to factory.
The ice-based cooling solution is an initiative of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development to address farm milk storage as wel as transport to collection centres and urban markets.
“Ice is first prepared with solar power. We fill ice into an extra vessel in the middle of special insulated 30 litre churns. This enables milk to be cooled up to 12 hours, preventing formation of germs,” said a doctoral student, Victor Torres Toledo.
The University of Hohenheim cooling system comprises solar panels linked to a control panel and batteries for freezer with an ice maker. Storage of ice blocks enables the system to run in low solar radiation and high ambient temperatures.
Source: The EastAfrican
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