VitaGoats can help thousands more children grow
The VitaGoat food processing system is quickly becoming a key component in First Steps’ mission to confront child malnutrition in North Korea. Since the VitaGoat does not require electricity to operate, it can be placed at sites where electrical power is unreliable or non-existent – which includes much of the country outside Pyongyang, the capital.
Each VitaGoat takes raw soybeans and daily produces a cup of nutrient-rich soymilk for 1,000 or more children. North Korea’s youngest generation has suffered from rampant stunted growth since 1995 when acute food shortages were triggered by widespread flooding that devastated the country’s agriculture. The situation remains dire for an estimated 2.5-million children as further agricultural setbacks and increasing economic stagnation continue – but it is something the VitaGoat can do much to alleviate.
First Steps introduced the VitaGoat to North Korea in 2005 and we now have 36 machines in operation there. We are very excited by its potential to improve thousands of lives and we want to send many more.
Why is the VitaGoat so good?
First Steps’ VitaGoat installation at Kalchonri co-operative farm has shown just what an effective nutritional aid it is – reliable, adaptable, straight-forward and inexpensive to operate. There, dried corn cobs are used to fuel the VitaGoat’s enclosed burner – but any bio-mass fuel (wood, coal, etc.) works well.
Bags of corn cobs that will be used to fuel VitaGoats November, 2009.
Photo: Sammy Ross
Corn cobs for VitaGoat fuel November, 2009.
Photo: Sammy Ross
Piping hot soymilk flows from VitaGoat November, 2010.
Photo: Craig Ketchum
Water in the boiler is heated and the resulting steam is then re-heated in a tube, creating a ‘super-heated’ steam that is fed into the pressure cooker. It is a process 10 times more fuel-efficient than cooking over an open fire.The cooker is made of stainless steel and pressure-cooks up to 15 litres of soybeans in 30 minutes. The finished product emerges from a valve at the bottom.The most eye-catching part of the VitaGoat is the pedal-powered grinding system, which uses adjustable pulleys for fast and easy grinding of soybeans in preparation for cooking.Recently First Steps has sent in electric grinders to be used alongside the VitaGoat machines. This enables our local partners to take advantage of electricity when it is available and to continue production even when it is not.
VitaGoats in operation Feb., 2011.
Photo: Kurtis Kooiker
Ottawa-based non-profit Malnutrition Matters has received two major awards for its development of the VitaGoat. In May 2007, the World Bank recognized the VitaGoat as one of 22 winners of its Development Marketplace competition, which originally considered more than 2,800 submissions. As well, the VitaGoat was honoured in December 2005, with the Tech Laureate Award for technology benefiting humanity at the Tech Museum Awards in San Jose, California.