Sun power to ensure your meal is served hot, at a lesser cost!


KARACHI – Pakistan-born American is keen familiarise the people living in the rural areas of Pakistan with the technology of home-made, non-patent and cheap ‘solar box cooker’ as his social responsibility.
“I have come here to show the world’s cheapest solar box cooker, a simple technology that uses sunlight to bake and cook plain rice, prepare lentils and other foods on daily basis in a covered casserole, a porcelain-enamel cooking dish,” said Pakistani expatriate Afzal Syed in an exclusive interview on Sunday.
Syed is also a volunteer associated with a non-profit American organisation – Solar Cookers International (SCI). He said the hardboard solar box cooker can be made at home at a cost of less than Rs 100. “To make this cooker, we need a folding cardboard, reflector sheet, a heavy micron polythene bag and a clip to tight the mouth of polythene bag so that the heat is not lost,” he added.
This is non-patent and anybody can copy its design. The cost of the metal sheet cooker can go up to Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,200 per kit, but it would be long lasting, he said. He pointed out that the temperature of the simple solar box cooker can reach up to 275 Fahrenheit or 135 degree centigrade in half an hour.
Syed, who is working in an American telephone company, said that the cooker is convenient and useful in those areas where piped gas, LPG or electricity is not available. “I want to familiarise the rural population with this the technology. This is perhaps a universal need for people living in the rural areas and the suburbs of big cities like Karachi and Lahore who cannot afford the costly LPG, coal or wood to cook food,” he said.
“This is my passion and I have held presentations at FPCCI and other organisations to introduce this technology,” he remarked. He said solar cookers are very popular in African countries as well as in Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
More than 500,000 simple solar cookers have been distributed in Africa under various projects.
“I want to give this technology to social welfare organisations like the Edhi Foundation, Chippa, Saylani or the Khidmad-e-Khalq Foundation so that they can donate it free of charge to the poor and needy,” Syed said. “I will teach their volunteers the know-how and the guidelines for making these simple cookers in Pakistan. They can set up a small factory or unit with the help donations for mass production so that these cookers can be distributed among poor free of cost.”
Syed, who had visited a village Mai Jo Dero in Gharo to demonstrate how the cooker is used, said that villagers used the technology to cook food and were keen to acquire it. He pointed out that several other types of solar cookers including parabolic cookers or concentrators are also easy to make for cooking more food at a fast speed.
A used dish antenna can be turned into heavy solar cookers with the help of either aluminium foil or tinted sheets to make food for hotels and restaurants. These solar cookers can also be used for picnics to cook food at beaches or in farmhouses. Referring to the announcement of the government that solar cookers would be provided to the flood survivors, Syed said that it is easy to provide them with the cookers as they are cheap and easy to handle.
“Unlike other cooking appliances, the solar cookers do not cremate the food,” he noted.