“Rice ATM” launched in Vietnam to help the needy amid coronavirus pandemic

"Rice ATM" launched in Vietnam to help the disadvantaged (Facebook Redfish)

“Rice ATM” launched in Vietnam to help the disadvantaged (Facebook Redfish)

HO CHI MINH CITY: A Vietnamese entrepreneur has invented an automatic rice dispenser, a “Rice ATM”, that offer the needy free rice 24 hours a day.

Hoang Tuan Anh’s expectation is to curb the potential COVID-19 cross transmissions when rice from charitable organizations is distributed in person, Vietnam Times reports.

The director of an electronic lock company in Tan Phu district, Ho Chi Minh City, thought of the idea after he saw large numbers of individuals and organizations gathering to give gifts, rice, noodles,  and other food to those in need.

He realized that the good deeds could stir COVID-19 transmission and probably turn into a disaster.

“The crowd could also jostle each other, defacing the city”, he added.

To implement the idea of a “Rice ATM”, he used the equipment available in his company’s warehouse and drew on the experience he accumulated over the years.

With assistance from his three technical staff, the 35-year-old entrepreneur finished his first rice dispenser within one day.

“It’s quite urgent. We didn’t have time to have it tailor-made, so I removed the motor in one of the lock testing machines in our company and turned it into this rice dispenser”, Tuan told VnExpress in a statement.

The $425 machine includes an automatic rice dividing system, a camera and buttons controlled by a phone application.

When someone in front of the camera presses the button, the valve automatically opens and around 1.5 kg of rice from the tank flows down the pipeline.

Tuan Anh hired three employees who took turn watching the camera and pressed the “off” button on the phone app if they identified anyone who wanted to take the charitable twice a day.

“I just want to make sure one gets enough proportion for the day and there’re enough left for others”, Tuan was quoted as saying.

"Rice ATM" launched in Vietnam to help the disadvantaged (Facebook Redfish)

“Rice ATM” launched in Vietnam to help the disadvantaged (Facebook Redfish)

He also set up several surveillance cameras around to keep security, marked each standing place at a safe distance that met social distancing rules and placed hand sanitizers next to the dispenser so that everyone could wash their hand before using the machine.

The rice dispenser can be used 24 hours a day to avoid mass crowding. It has a capacity of up to 500kg and it will notify the app if it is running out of rice.

Initially, Tuan Anh’s company intended to deliver around 500kg rice each day, but it actually amounted to one ton on the first day.

Many individuals and organizations had donated tens to hundreds of kg to Tuan Anh’s meaningful project. Some even drove their truck with tons of rice to the place.

“I’m going to do this until the COVID-19 pandemic ends. I’m also planning to make another 100 rice dispensers to help those in need”, Tuan Anh said. “Vietnam is facing a shortage of rice in the middle of COVID-19 time. Thus, hopefully, the community will join hands and help me with the incoming project”.

Last year, a mosque in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur resorted to a specially designed Automated Teller Machine (ATM) as a new and novel way to offer rice to the needy.

To collect the rice, users tapped a card on the machine’s sensor. The machine then dispensed 2kg of rice through a collection point at the base of the ATM.

Those who wished to make donations deposited cash through a slot in the machine. The money was used to buy more rice for the needy.

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