William Kisaalita has cold milk on his mind. The tissue engineer runs a program at the University of Georgia in the US that develops new technologies to help farmers in his native Uganda, where he grew up on a farm.
“I’ve always had an interest in doing something for small farmers,” Kisaalita tells me. “They are my aunts and uncles, my brothers and sisters. No one develops tech to help them, but I feel that there is room to create products that improve their profitability.”
Kisaalita has worked on a number of such problems over the past decade, including a low-cost nutcracker for farmers in Morocco and a solar-powered incubator for guinea fowl in Burkina Faso. But now he has turned his attention to milk producers in his home country.
Many small-scale Ugandan farmers own a few cows, which are milked twice a day to sell locally or to larger dairies. But here’s the thing - for it to stay fresh, the milk has to be cooled – easier said than done in areas with intermittent or no electricity.
“I’ve seen farmers pour their milk away at the end of the day,” Kisaalita says. “Sometimes as much as half of it.” And when sour milk is poured away, so too are profits and a valuable source of nutrition.