The annual Zimbabwe Agricultural Show is the premier event organized by the Zimbabwe Agricultural Society for the national facilitation and promotion of agricultural development in Zimbabwe. Attracting more than 550 commercial exhibitors, 700 farmers, 200 micro-enterprises, and over a quarter of a million visitors annually, the 2023 edition, known as the 113th show, took place from August 28 to September 2 under the theme "Sustained Growth, Adaptation, Productivity, and Linkages." SOLTRAIN+ Zimbabwe exhibited to support sustained growth and productivity through energy efficiency, focusing on renewable energy in general and solar thermal in particular.
During the Zimbabwe Agricultural Show in Harare, the SOLTRAIN+ stand was a center of attraction. A diverse audience, including farmers, businessmen, schoolteachers, and headmasters, flocked to the stand to explore how they could benefit from energy provided through solar thermal technologies. Many farmers expressed interest in the displayed solar thermal systems, with the pumped type garnering particular attention.
The SOLTRAIN+ solar trailer was strategically positioned next to the Zimbabwe Parliament stand and along a busy section that connected various stands to the arena and food court. The passive thermal system was extended for better visibility. Information pamphlets were distributed to potential patrons, and live demonstrations of both passive and active solar thermal systems were conducted. The stand was continuously staffed by up to four members, including renewable energy lecturers, laboratory technicians, and workshop experts.
After the demonstrations, attendees requested pamphlets and contact information for installers, with many promising to consider solar thermal geysers for their next water heating system purchases. Young researchers and students inquired about the opportunities offered under the SOLTRAIN initiative, which included study demonstrations, practicals, bursaries, and scholarships.
A significant portion of the visitors to the stand consisted of youths who attended during the exhibition days. On the busy weekdays from Tuesday to Friday, middle-aged professionals from an Agricultural Vocational College engaged with assertive questions about the functionality of solar geysers and their efficacy.
Schoolchildren also visited the stand, displaying interest in learning about solar thermal technology and its potential benefits to their communities. Notably, one gentleman who manages a pig project in rural areas sought information on how to use the system for his project.
SOLTRAIN+'s gender representative explained how solar energy provides more women with access to energy, particularly in remote rural areas. With solar thermal technologies applicable to various uses such as space heating, air conditioning, hot water production, industrial process heat, drying, distillation, desalination, and electrical power generation, women have more time for daily tasks, allowing for education or additional income-generating activities.
The SOLTRAIN team was represented by Eng. S. Mhlanga, Eng. H. Chingosho, Eng. J. Chigerwe, Mr. S. Aruferi, Mr. R. Chikotosa, Mr. E. Zindowe, and Mr. S. Sarupinda.
In summary, the exhibition was a resounding success, and we eagerly anticipate the 2024 event!