An engineer from the Mechanical Engineering Department of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) has developed a mechanized cocoa pod breaker to ease the burden on cocoa farmers.
The conventional method of splitting cocoa pods to extract the beans is a crucial step in the cocoa value chain.
But the process comes with an arduous task of slicing the pods with machete-like sharp edges, which predisposes farmers to serious injury.
Fortunately, Professor George Obeng changes the narrative by introducing a mechanized cocoa splitter.
“Considering that Ghana’s goal is to be the best country in terms of cocoa production, there is a great need for the pod splitting process to be mechanized.
“Therefore, the process of separating the beans from its attachment in the pod is very critical. This would increase production as well as productivity and efficiency,” he said.
The machine is compartmentalized into two functions; the splicer – having the conveyor belt and a knife, and the splitter – which has a rotating chamber to detach the beans from the pod by rotational force.
The user-friendly machine has an efficiency of 97% to split more than 60 cocoa pods per minute, a technology that can maximize cocoa production in Ghana.
Not only will the technology speed up the cocoa harvesting process, but it will also prevent fatigue and avoid cutting the cocoa beans.
“This mechanized tool will save farmers the dredge of splitting the cocoa pod to get the beans.
According to Professor Obeng, the machine, currently a prototype is still being developed to advance its properties and include a photovoltaic solar energy source.
“The machine can run on an internal combustion engine, an electric motor and currently my team and I are working on a photovoltaic solar panel to have GrEEn energy to reduce environmental pollution,” he said.
As the second largest cocoa producing country, a solar-powered cocoa splitter is a step in the right direction to consolidate efforts to build local capacity for cocoa value addition.