Technology development

The Dual Purpose Weeder

Participatory technology development involving: Ahmed Abdel Raheem, the innovator, with Muhammed Siddiq from Practical Action and a representative of the Ministry of AgricultureOne of prime objectives of Practical Action is to be known as a leading authority on the use of technology to reduce poverty in developing countries. With this in mind Practical Action Sudan is looking at increasing the number of new technologies and innovations that it develops from a wider range of sources including:

  • Local innovators
  • Inventors
  • Indigenous knowledge
  • Universities and academics
  • The private sector
  • Staff within Practical Action

Practical Action will work in collaboration with any of the above parties and the end users themselves in a process known as Participatory Technology Development (PTD). The work itself is likely to involve research and development (R and D), feasibility studies, technical drawings, the building of prototypes and the testing of these prototypes in the field. If following these steps a new technology is proved to be successful then it will be available for greater promotion and dissemination within areas where Practical Action works and hopefully further a field.

A technical drawing of the Dual Purpose WeederAn early example of technology development that has recently taken place is the Dual Purpose Weeder, (A weeder that can also be used as a trolley) which has been developed in North Darfur. The idea of the animal drawn weeding device belongs to the innovator Ahmed Mohammed Abdel Raheem a metal fabricator in El Fashir. Ahmed had already made a prototype when Practical Action first became aware of his idea. Since then Practical Action has supported Ahmed technically and provided funds for manufacturing further prototypes, the latter is something that is difficult for an innovator to afford themselves.

Following the development that has taken place over the last 6 months five weeders are being trialed by farmers in North Darfur during the 2008 rainy season. Depending on the success of these trials will determine what steps are taken next regarding the weeders development.

Through a democratic process within Practical Action 5 technologies were selected for development over the next 6 months:

  • The Gum Arabic Tapping Tool in coordination with the Gum Arabic company Dar Savanna
  • The Water Turbine by Ameer Diab a professor from Dongola University
  • The use of Solar Power for Practical Action Community Centers / Practical Answer Knowledge Knodes
  • The Ceramic Water Filter by Practical Action Ex-Country Director Mohammed Majzoub
  • The Battery Charging Donkey Cart by the innovator Kamal Khalifa

Through the Sharing Newsletter we hope to keep you up to date with any significant progress made with each of the technologies.

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This article first appeared in the April 2009 issue of Sharing, Practical Action Sudan's newsletter.
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