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WSU students study Portuguese so they can build machine for rural agriculture

Dec 10, 2019
WSU students study Portuguese so they can build machine for rural agriculture

Mthatha - Four Walter Sisulu University National Diploma: Mechanical Engineering students will effectively re-imagine subsistence living and agri-business for rural Eastern Cape communities through their Corn Sheller machine design that can shell corn kernels in minutes.

A corn sheller is a piece of machinery used to remove corn from a cob for human consumption or livestock feeding. An innovation that could change the lives of the poor majority of people living in the province.

Today, geographical patterns of poverty on the map of South Africa still correspond to the apartheid “homelands”; barren rural regions far from cities, packed with people but with little to no infrastructure. Around 880, 000 of the mostly rural Eastern Cape’s people live in poverty.

“We are trying to reduce the intensive labour of shelling corn by hand that our parents and grandparents have to endure back home who rely on subsistence farming and agri-business. We saw it fit to be innovative and create a device that will be cost and time efficient,” said co-innovator, Andile Sikweza.

The corn sheller machine by Andile, Nkosiyethu Msila, Luyanda Mpofana and Avuyile Msongelwa is not a new invention, however Andile and his friends modified the existing model to suit the South African rural market and context.

The group saw a similar devise on the popular video-sharing social media platform, YouTube which inspired their own unique South African version.

“Our design is not available in South Africa. We also had to translate is from a Portuguese YouTube video. We then had to incorporate our own original ideas because we couldn’t fully understand or translate the language,” added Andile.

Having grown up in a remote village near iDutywa, Andile says his laborious up-bringing inspired him to find solutions to the labour intensive rural lifestyle – over and above – with his parents in mind.

“We saw our parents struggling with this problem growing up. The labour weighed heavily on them physically and with time. This machine is safe and can easily be used even by my grandmother,” said Andile.

Andile and his peers exhibited the corn sheller machine during WSU’s annual Research & Innovation Day in Mthatha where the institution’s Vice-Chancellor & Principal, Professor Rob Midgley could barely contain his excitement.

“This means an enormous amount to the university. These kind of ideas and when people see what we do here at WSU then it just improves the image and credibility of the institution. But as much as the University is getting kudos, they are also getting exposure and confidence from presenting at this level,” said Midgley.

Two WSU Medical Orthotics and Prosthetic students, Zanodumo Godlimpi and Siphosethu Mgwili’s also recently made ground-breaking prosthetic leg inventions that may give financial and physical relief to the over three million below-knee amputation casualties occurring annually on a global scale.

Image: WSU students, Nkosiyethu Msila, Andile Sikweza and Luyanda Mpofana with WSU Vice-Chancellor & Principal, Rob Midgley.

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