Blog of Trân Ngô

Longan, a Vietnamese fruit that could go solar

Posted Saturday 1 September 2018 by Trân Ngô.

In her previous post, Tran Ngo, our Junior Project Manager, shared about Vietnamese SME’s that could greatly benefit from GoSol solar concentrators. We have already proven that the SOL5 is great for solar baking, roasting nuts and chocolate beans, dry fish and fruits, produce steam for semi-industrial uses, but for very specific and local needs, the SOL5 seems a very good solution as well. Check out what Longan drying requires…

On top of activities that can sound somehow familiar in the West and that I have presented in my previous post, the culture and preparation of Longan is very specific to Vietnam. Longan is native to Southern Asia and it’s a familiar fruit for a tropical country like Vietnam.

This is Longan!

The name “Longan” literally means "dragon eye" because it resembles an eyeball when the fruit is shelled. The fruit is sweet and juicy. The seed and the shells are not consumed. Apart from being eaten raw, Longan fruit is also often used in Asian soups, snacks, desserts, and sweet-and-sour foods, either fresh or dried. Longan is rich in vitamin C, good for boosting your immune system against sicknesses such as colds and flu, it also aids iron absorption and improves skin health.

Preparation of Longan in Con Tau village, Tam Hiep Commune, Binh Dai District, Ben Tre Province.

Because of the hot and humid weather in Vietnam, the Longan tree can bear fruits at any time of the year. It is estimated that there are about 70-80 thousand hectares of Longan planted in Vietnam, that can produce around 600 million tonnes per year, of which southern provinces make for about two thirds of this area.

During my field trip, I had the chance to visit one Longan drying community to understand more about Longan production. Currently, local people are burning charcoal and wood in brick ovens to dry Longan.

Wood is needed in the process.
Drying Longan by burning wood and charcoal.
Charcoal is also made of Longan shells.

Each household production in the village I have visited can dry about 100 kg of Longan per day. They do wish for a better fuel saving and environmentally-friendly solution.

Discussing with a household producing dried Longan.

Check out Tran’s previous post: Can GoSol be useful in South East Asia?


Can GoSol be useful in South East Asia?

Posted Thursday 30 August 2018 by Trân Ngô.

Sponsored by our partner Autodesk Foundation, our Junior Project Manager is just back from her field trip to Vietnam for the second phase of the Vietnam Market Access Program (VMAP+), a program supported by the Finnish Innovation Partnership Program (IPP). Here are her impressions and interesting approach of Vietnam SME’s interested in GoSol solutions.

It was an amazing journey in the position of Junior Project Manager Vietnam that I want to share with you. During Summer 2018, the main aims of my travel to Vietnam was to represent our company GoSol to the potential partners and do the market identification through community visits.

With the network GoSol is starting to have from VMAP since last year, this time I had the chance to meet potential partners who are interested in developing semi-industrial applications as well as humanitarian projects with us. In addition, for our educational plan, I met the representative from the Ho Chi Minh University of Technology to consider our cooperation in educational training and raising local awareness about environmental protection.

Thanks to the help of a local partner, the very dynamic NGO “Ben Tre’s Young Creative Group”, I got a successful field trip to Ben Tre Province, met the local people who are in need of our clean solar technology and discussed with the local government about local trademark and enterprise development.

Discussion with the People’s Committee of Binh Thang, Ben Tre Province.

One of the most interesting communities that I have visited is the Rice paper craft village. They produced 1000 rice papers per day from 40 kg of rice. They are burning charcoal and wood to steam the rice paper and then dry it under the sun. Mrs. Huyen, the owner of one small business said: “I wish to replace my current fuel burning to save money and have a temperature-controlled solution that gets rid of the insects with the old sun-drying method, fastens the production and produces a better quality product”. GoSol obviously fits their need.

Tran Ngô and Mrs. Huyen, rice paper craft village, Ben Tre Province
Wood needed for rice paper production

Moreover, because they are a traditional craft village and want to boost the local tourism, they hope our drying machines to be visible from outside for the tourists to see their sustainable production. They were very excited about our technology and I was also impressed by their entrepreneur spirit.

Drying rice paper craft village in My Thanh Commune, Ben Tre Province
Ready for sale!

Another fascinating community I visited is the “Drying fish village”. Vietnam has a long sea border, so seafood products are very popular with large capacity which leads to the problem of product conservation. In this village, there are 40-50 households drying fish. One small household production can dry 200-500kg of fish per day so overall is a massive amount. It takes 6 to 8 hours to dry the fish outside. Local people are also eager to change their old method of direct sun-drying with many constraints in term of product quality to our faster solar drying technique. Mr. Hong, the owner of one household production said: “We have large space for drying, large capacities and don’t have labour, only family production so our current drying method is very hard work. Therefor we are really in need for drying ovens”.

Drying Fish Village in Binh Thang Commune, Binh Dai District, Ben Tre Province
Drying Fish Village in Binh Thang Commune

Vietnam not only has a high need for drying applications, but also very much for the process of roasting coffee. I had the chance to visit a semi-industrial coffee roasting factory from “Mr. Chi Coffee” and to have a great discussion with the owner for our further cooperation for solar roasted coffee trademark in Vietnam.

Mr. Chi Coffee’s Factory in Ho Chi Minh city
Roasted coffee machine

With our past experience through the fish drying project, GoSol is confident that our solar oven can be their best free clean energy and adaptable solution.

In her next post, Tran will present how GoSol technology can be useful for a specific niche market.