Tue | Dec 11, 2018

Sorrel processing made cheaper, easier

Published:Thursday | December 24, 2015 | 12:00 AM
The sorrel harvesting machine invented by Oral and Allison Turner of Turner Innovations Limited.
Vendors Marlon Tibby (right) and Junior Gentles as they prepare sorrel for sale along Barry Street last year.

Farmers preparing to plant sorrel to meet next year's demand for the rich, nutritious Christmas-time drink, now have the option of using a locally developed machine to reduce the time and cost of processing the fruit.

The sorrel-harvesting machine was developed by St Elizabeth farmers and founders of Turner Innovations Limited, Oral and Allison Turner.

The machine feeds picked sorrel buds on a conveyor belt into a funnel apparatus, which then separates the calyx from the seed pod. The calyx is used in a variety of dishes, and gives the sorrel drink its rich colour and bold flavour.

The machine has the capacity to process up to 600 pounds of the fruit in a 10-hour period to produce 300lb of de-seeded sorrel.

This decreases the labour cost of hand stripping the sorrel by at least 50 per cent. In addition, the machine is operated by a single user, reducing the manpower from 10 to one person per session.

The machine is designed in a manner so that it can be modified and improved upon to increase capacity and the volume of processing output.

Turner said there has been positive feedback from industry stakeholders. She noted that, from the start, the Ministry of Agriculture has been very supportive of the initiative.

The prototype was presented to the ministry in 2011, which then made a submission to the Development Bank of Jamaica for assistance in developing the technology and putting it on the market.

The Turners, since then, have made various modifications to the machine to perfect it for commercial use.

Farmers can schedule use of the machine by contacting Turner Innovations Limited's Manchester offices at Comma Pen, Watson Hill PO; telephone 965-5078, or email tunerinnovations@yahoo.com.

The farmer is required to pay a 50 per cent deposit at the time of reservation and pay the balance when the picked crop is delivered for processing.

There is also an option to transport the machine to the farms for the fruit to be processed on-site.