Home / 'My packaging machine opens new market for Conpapa'
'My packaging machine opens new market for Conpapa'
Siebe Moeyaert, student of electromechanics from Gistel, has returned from Ecuador. Together with local potato farmers, he has designed an ingenious packaging machine.
The students of the VTI have attended the construction of the machine live during a school trip to Ecuador?
Siebe Moeyaert: 'Yes, but unfortunately I stayed with the scouts in Japan. I missed the school trip in the Andes mountains, but in one way or another I remembered that the farmers from Conpapa wanted to connect a packing unit to our machine.'
Did you pick up that idea for your master's thesis at K.U.Leuven?
'Both my teachers and the Trias staff responded enthusiastically to my proposal to design the packaging machine. I quickly followed seven Spanish lessons and on 29 June I boarded the plane, heading for Ecuador.'
A trip that lasted no less than ten weeks?
"At first I spoke a lot with the farmers of Conpapa. It was not easy in the beginning because of the language barrier, but today I already speak quite a bit of Spanish.'
That intensive consultation was needed to design a machine adapted to the farmer’s needs?
"Indeed, I had to take into account some crucial parameters. The machine will be small-scale, economical and affordable. Profitability is paramount.'
What will happen to your design now?
'VTI students will convert my 3D design into a technical 2D drawing that maps all dimensions. After that I will probably travel to Ecuador again to supervise the construction of the machine with a local manufacturer.'
In the meantime, are you in Flanders looking for funds for the construction of the packaging machine?
'I'm looking for 20,000 euros. With that amount I can do two things: build the new machine and give the existing infrastructure for washing, drying and sorting the potatoes a firm upgrade.'
You have seen that machine of the VTI with your own eyes. Is she running at full speed?
'Every Thursday the plant will wash a volume of nine tons of potatoes in 2 to 3 hours. The potatoes are sold on Friday. The machine is running, but there are some technical flaws that I'm going to eliminate.'
What is Conpapa's most important added value for your packaging machine?
'She will do the manual and unpaid work of two workers. In addition, farmers will not be limited to fill 20 kilograms for sales to middlemen. The machine also makes it possible to fill plastic bags of 5, 3 and 2.5 kilograms. Ideal for direct sales to supermarkets. Thanks to the machine, Conpapa gains access to a new market.'
That will make the farmers of Conpapa sound like music to the ears?
'They gave me a poncho on my departure. Through the employees of Trias Andes I have been told that the farmers give such a gift only for exceptional matters. That hit me.'
With what eyes do you look at the potato cultivation in the Andes?
'I think it's important that young farmers get opportunities to develop their talents in rural areas. And the native potato is a kind of cultural heritage. I compare it a bit with endangered species. Something like that can never just disappear.'