CTI's Ewing Grinder is designed to be assembled in minutes and can be cleaned equally as quickly. Capable of making peanut butter, cocoa butter, maize or millet flour, and dozens of other products, CTI's multi-crop grinder opens new opportunities to pursue microenterprise for smallholder farmers. Alternative enterprise opportunities are incredibly valuable, allowing families to gain an income, empowering women to participate in economic life, and contributing to food security by increasing incomes and local food production. One of the most frequent requests we get about the grinder is to add solar motorization, increasing the production potential a grinder can give to a smallholder in areas where electricity access is not available.

As part of CTI's human-centered design process, we are committed to only introduce motorization to our tools where it is contexually and culturally appropriate for the farmer and when CTI has fully determined that motorized solutions will be long-lasting and sustainable. As part of this effort, we reached out to the 
University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign's engineering department to assist with preliminary testing. Get an inside peak into the work being done from one of the hard working University of Illinois students, Lydia Tanner.

======================================
Solar Project Update
Hello! My name is Lydia and I’m a member of a Senior Design group from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Within our major, it is required that all students take a course called ABE 469 – Industry-Linked Design Project where we get put into groups and work with an industry partner to get experience working on real-world problems/projects. Me and my four teammates, Hitarth, Shean, Sam, and 
Jeremy, have been working with CTI for the past few months on determining what it would take to solar-power the Ewing VI Grain Grinder.
Students Working in Shop
 
Our progress thus far can be split into three major steps: 
  
1)     Determining the design requirements
2)     Researching parts
3)     Choosing a design

All three of those steps have been completed, and we are now be entering the final two stages of this project (assuming no major unforeseen problems!):

4)     Ordering & assembling parts
5)     Testing & write-up

For now, I’ll be describing the first three steps!


Step 1 – Determining the design requirements
After receiving an Ewing VI Grinder from CTI (thank you, btw!), we needed to test the torque requirements in order to spec for parts. To do this, we had a wrench socket built on to the grinder’s shaft so that we could use a torque wrench to perform the grinding. We sourced dent corn locally (a tougher grain than what the grinder is typically used for, which we were informed was pearl millet) in order to determine the higher range of torque required to start the grinding motion. We also tested the torque requirements of soft red winter wheat to be safe. The maximum torque we measured was 25.2 N-m.



Step 2 – Researching parts
So from the first step, we determined that the torque requirement we would need to spec for was 25.2 N-m. From CTI we already knew that the maximum RPM the grinder could handle before incurring damage was 300. In addition, we knew that the shaft diameter of the grinder was 20 mm. And so at this point we started looking for parts that could connect to the shaft and could meet those requirements. This research led to two designs, which I will describe in Step
3. But first, I’d like to address a couple of questions that may have come up at this point in our process.


Why did we test for torque rather than power requirements? We thought torque was the more important requirement, since it more accurately reflects the initial movement of the grinding motion. Power is a function of both torque and RPM, and thus is a measurement that takes place over a period of time. Torque, however, is the force applied on a moment arm (a distance), and thus can be considered an instantaneous measurement, if you will. To motorize the grinder, we need one that can overcome the initial, instantaneous torque. Once the grinding has started, the torque requirement decreases, which is more in-line with a power measurement.

Why does the shaft diameter of the grinder matter? The grinder shaft has to be connected in some way to the rest of our design in order to motorize the grind. Some difficulty we encountered here though is that the shaft diameter is in the SI Unit system, while most of the parts we could realistically order within a certain time-frame are all in the American-adopted English Unit system.


Step 3 – Choosing a design
As stated earlier, we came up with two designs to choose from. Below are images from one of our class presentations that depict them.

Design1

Our first design prioritizes safety (since all the parts would be self-contained, thus minimizing the exposure of moving parts to the user) and ease of assembly (since everything is attached in a linear fashion, mounted onto a single base in order). However, the parts are more expensive overall due to the gear box (also known as a speed reducer). The cheapest we found, which did not provide an adequate output torque for our design anyways, was too expensive. In addition, the gear box we did end up finding required ¼ hp input, which required a motor that needed a 24 V input, thus increasing the solar panel requirements from our initial 12 V estimate.

 Design2

The second design, based off the motorization manual we received from CTI, is essentially the exact same thing except instead of a gear box we would be using two gears and a chain to reduce the motor’s RPM and increase its torque, but potentially lead to more slippage of the chain. However, this design is less expensive and the calculated output torque (maximum) and RPMs are more desirable. In addition, the motor requires the desired 12 V.



Design #1

Design #2

Output Torque

33.331 N-m

39.94 N-m

Output RPM

~49 RPM

~180 RPM



After a meeting with Don & Vern, we decided on Design #2 and began ordering parts.


What now?
So that was steps 1-3, and now we are moving on to 4 & 5. We’ve already have our motor, gears, and chain, and are waiting on a bushing in order to fit our gear onto the grinder’s shaft. Researching batteries and consulting professors is still underway, but we hope to order the remaining parts soon and have our assembly complete in the coming weeks, fingers crossed!


Kind regards,
Team Rise N’ Grind 
 Rise and Grind Team Logo





















======================================================
"Team Rise n' Grind"
From Left to Right: Hitarth Patel, Shean Lin, Samuel Sung, Jeremy Martin, and Lydia Tanner
From Left to Right: Hitarth Patel, Shean Lin, Samuel Sung, Jeremy Martin, and Lydia Tanner

 
PHASE III OF McKNIGHT FOUNDATION FUNDED PROJECT LAUNCHED IN MALAWI

Advancing the Development and Adoption of Post-Harvest Grain Legume Technologies by Smallholder Farmers in Malawi and Tanzania

Compatible Technology International (CTI), on 5th February, 2018, launched the third phase of a McKnight Foundation funded project “Advancing the Development and Adoption of Post-Harvest Grain Legume Technologies by Smallholder Farmers in Malawi and Tanzania”.

The project, which aims to improve competitiveness and livelihoods of smallholder grain legume producers in Malawi and Tanzania, through the development of labor-saving technologies has in the past two phases introduced groundnut post-harvest handling tools, including a lifter, stripper and sheller to smallholder farmers in Malawi and Tanzania.

The previous two phases also involved gathering data on the technologies impact on gender, efficiency as well as farmers’ willingness and ability to adopt the technologies. Currently, many smallholder farmers both in groups and individuals, who have bought the machines have reported a massive reduction in physical drudgery associated with groundnut production, as well as reduction in post-harvest losses, among others.

The third phase of the project, which runs up to 2020, aims to promote adoption of groundnut post-harvest technologies and other grain crops. Among others, CTI aim to leverage on National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi (NASFAM)’s farmer networks to launch Food Technology Centers (FTC), which will create market and business opportunities for smallholder farmers, especially youth and women, in Malawi.

Through the FTC, farmers will have access to food processing technologies, as well as training related to production, post-harvest handling and sale of value added products to local markets. The FTC will include a targeted effort to women’s groups and capacity building among the youth leading to job creation.

CTI also aims to develop more post-harvest innovations for other key legumes in Malawi, like soybeans, pigeon peas and sweet beans. Research will be conducted to establish how the additional technologies can help reduce labor constraints, improve food quality and eventually contribute to improving smallholder farmers’ livelihood.

The project has a research component which will assess the demand for legumes post-harvest technologies among smallholder farmers in Tanzania, also included are demonstration sessions and field based farmer- evaluation of selected tools.

The launched was followed by a one-day planning meeting, during which CTI and partner organizations including the International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) and NASFAM developed a revised theory of change based on the concept of Farmer Research Network (FRN). Participants also reviewed the project’s previous Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) plan as well as the project work plan.



Part of the participants to the inception and work planning meeting
GKI Post
Between the farm and the market, around 50% of food worldwide is lost before it reaches consumers, according to the UN. As the global population continues to grow, there are a handful of innovation areas that can be invested in immediately to fight the food loss.

“…in Sub-Saharan Africa between 30-60% of all food grown never reaches consumers.”
The Global Knowledge Institute

The Global Knowledge Institute (GKI), with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, consulted 50 experts to identify solutions to the problem of global food loss, including CTI’s Executive Director Alexandra Spieldoch.

GKI identified 22 “investible innovations,” ranging from data collection techniques to packaging, which can solve the problem of food loss between harvest and market, including “near farm mobile processing.”

“Near farm mobile processing and packaging is what CTI is doing,” says Spieldoch, “Our tools are portable and designed to be used by farmers in remote/rural areas.”

Most processing of crops takes place on a large industrial scale. With small harvest sizes combined with a limited shelf life after harvest to reach the processing stage, small farmers in remote areas simply lack the resources to access industrial scale processing where it takes place. CTI is working right now and investing today to fill this gap.

CTI in Senegal is distributing affordable threshers that allow pearl millet farmers to thresh and winnow their harvests efficiently and locally. In Malawi, CTI has groundnut tools to quickly strip and shell nuts and a grinder to make them into products that can be sold at market.

“Tools at the farm level support less food loss, more diversified diets and more access for small farmers,” explains Spieldoch.

Another “investible innovation” area in the report is improving farmer business knowledge to help them be competitive in the market.

“Through all of our programs, CTI is providing technical, business and food safety training to support farmers beyond simply getting tools into their hands. Our work and the work of all organizations working towards building up food systems in emerging markets have to move in this direction.”

Learn more about CTI’s approach: http://compatibletechnology.org/what-we-do/our-approach.html

Read more about the report or read the full report: http://globalknowledgeinitiative.org/2017/10/26/global-knowledge-initiative-publishes-new-report-on-the-role-of-innovation-in-transforming-food-systems-in-emerging-markets/
Thursday, 12 October 2017

Stories of Impact: Ireen

Written by



Ireen is a farmer in Chaombwa Village, Malawi.  She is part of a farmer's group who collectively purchased CTI peanut tools and saw an immediate impact on her farm, in her life, and in the life of her children.

"We are now very happy families as we no longer have to struggle with basic necessities like soap."

Support women like Ireen by making an easy online donation today at our donation page.

See more stories like Ireen's by following CTI on Facebook, Twitter (@CompatibleTech), or Instagram.



ctiHorizontal RGB 294

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Contact: Ricardo Romero                                                                                       
Ricardo@compatibletechnology.org
651-632-3912 


Compatible Technology International Receives Important Award from USAID to Make Millet Threshing Easier for Women Smallholder Farmers in Senegal


St. Paul, MN/July 20, 2017 —Compatible Technology International (CTI), a St. Paul nonprofit, has received a $2.2 million award from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to implement the project ‘USAID|Yombal mbojj’ in Senegal, which literally means making threshing easier in Wolof.

Senegal is a country with nearly 15 million people which imports half its food needs and is a chronic food deficit country, with an estimated 2.2 million people who are food insecure. Pearl millet is a crop that grows well in the Western Sahel and holds promise as  it is part of the traditional diet, drought resistant and nutritious. There are more than 230,000 millet farmers in Senegal, with the knowledge gained there eventually reaching and helping as many as 4 million farmers in West Africa. The majority of these farmers still use traditional methods to thresh millet. Women first pound their harvested millet with a mortar and pestle and then winnow it in the wind to sort the grain from the other plant materials. This process is grueling, tedious and inefficient.

USAID|Yombal mbojj will reduce drudgery and strengthen the pearl millet value chain in Senegal by working directly with smallholder pearl millet farmers, particularly women. The project will also prioritize partnerships with the African private sector to manufacture and equip Senegalese farmers with mechanized millet threshers designed by CTI in addition to providing  training and technical support. 

“We are so pleased to have this opportunity to work with USAID to develop a sustainable postharvest market and to realize large-scale impact in Senegal,” said Alexandra Spieldoch, Executive Director of CTI. “There is so much power in providing women farmers and young adults with access to tools and training, and opening up new doors for economic opportunity and growth.With access to these millet tools, small farmers can participate in a growth model that benefits not only them, but urban consumers as well.”

USAID|Yombal mbojj will have a significant impact on reducing hunger and poverty in Senegal and, eventually, all over West Africa,” Spieldoch said. “Senegal is a close ally of the United States government and has set an example of democratic rule as well as ethnic and religious tolerance. We are committed to investing in the well-being of their people.”

About Compatible Technology International: A St. Paul, Minnesota-based nonprofit that equips smallholder farmers in Africa with innovative tools and training to harvest and process food to nourish their families, bring their crops to market and rise above hunger and poverty. Over the years its 35 year history, CTI’s technologies have helped 500,000 people in 40 countries.  http://www.compatibletechnology.org/



###
Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Field Notes from Malawi

Written by Bupe Mulaga Mwakasungula, Malawi Project Manager

LovenessBlogLet me introduce you to a true superhero. Loveness is a farmer and entrepreneur from a small town in Kasungu District in Malawi. She’s the main breadwinner for her family — her husband passed away last year – and she runs several businesses including a small grocery store and a farm where she grows peanuts and sugarcane.

Loveness has 10 children depending on her, so we were blown away when she told us she’s managed to educate them all. Some of her kids are working now, while others are finishing secondary school. She owns a few cows, an iron sheet house – a luxury – and as of a few weeks ago, she’s also the proud owner of a CTI peanut stripper.

Loveness is the first farmer to purchase a peanut stripper on her own, rather than as part of a women’s group. CTI’s peanut stripper helps farmers rapidly remove peanut pods from the stem, and is part of a suite of tools that also includes equipment for harvesting and shelling peanuts. The tools help farmers produce more peanuts with far less effort, and they improve the quality and market value of their crop.

“My plan is to have all three of CTI’s peanut tools so I can use them on my field and earn money lending them out to other farmers.”

Loveness is a role model in her community, and when she starts using new technologies, others follow. Loveness is organizing a meeting with her neighbors this month so she can show them how to use the stripper.

“Owning these tools, for me, is a sign of wealth,” she told us. “Please bring me a sheller, I will buy it too.”

We are collaborating with farmer organizations throughout Malawi to introduce our peanut tools to farmer leaders and women’s organizations. We provide tools, training and ongoing support, while the farmer groups cover the material costs of the peanut equipment through loans or savings.

As we monitor their progress over the next year, we’re learning about the most effective models for farmers to purchase the equipment and earn a return on their investment – valuable information which will help us scale the tools in Malawi and throughout the region. Thank you to our generous donors, as well as the McKnight Foundation and the CHS Foundation, for supporting this work.

In a new video, our volunteers and staff talk about how simple technologies—developed and delivered in partnership with women farmers—are transforming communities.

 

“Right now we’re seeing women dance, right we’re seeing women set up businesses, we’re seeing women with smiles on their faces knowing wow, I’m going to be able to something else with my day.”

 
We want to thank catchfire, a Minneapolis-based advertising agency that volunteered many hours to create this beautiful video.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Volunteer Spotlight: Vern Cardwell

Written by

Vern blog
CTI has collaborated with skilled volunteers since we were founded in 1981 by engineers and scientists who sought to use their expertise to fight global hunger. On our design team, you’ll a find a creative and quirky bunch of seasoned experts from a variety of fields. Take Vern Cardwell, an agronomist who spent 45 years teaching at the University of Minnesota, before retiring and becoming a daily fixture in CTI’s lab. Vern’s work and wisdom have impacted so many people, and he’s been instrumental in the development of our groundnut tools and grain thresher. We recently spoke to Vern about why he volunteers and what drives him to spend his retirement working to fight global hunger.

Why do you volunteer?

I taught a course on world food problems for 15 years at the University of Minnesota and I’ve had the opportunity to work with farming communities around the world. I’ve lived through the horse drawn equipment era to the modern 1000 hp tractors and so I recognize that big machinery can do a lot of things, but big machinery isn’t going to solve the problems of small farmers.

When you arrive on some of these African villages and you look across the skyline, you can’t see a power pole anywhere, there’s no electricity. You look around and there are no motorized vehicles other than the ones you came in. You ask to see their tools and they show you a machete and a short handled hoe. It’s a lot of backbreaking work. When you talk to the women, who are doing most of the work, and they very matter-of-factly point out, “We have our periods of hunger, where there isn’t enough food for our children, and there are deaths in our family.” That gives you a sense of urgency to do something to improve on the situation.

I retired in December of 2012 and I started working as a volunteering in January. I’ve been putting in 20-25 hours a week ever since and have made 5 trips to Malawi and one to Tanzania. 

What drives you to care about global hunger?

All we have to do is think about where we came from. My grandparents left Russia at the time that the Bolshevik revolution in 1914. They didn’t have enough money to come directly to the US, so they ended up going first to Argentina. Grandpa worked on a wheat farm to earn enough to get to Tampa. When they got to Tampa, grandma was rejected. She had to leave. She and several others in their group went to Cuba. After about three months grandma was able to come to the US and meet up with grandpa again.

But by the grace of god, I could have been a Russian, I could have been an Argentinian, I could have been a Cuban. But I am an American. Each of us, we are all in this country, immigrants. We may have been born here but our forefathers came from somewhere else. And the fact that we have what we have is a tribute to their hard work, but it’s also a tribute to the bounty that this nation has in terms of natural resources.

Africa is the dry continent. The oldest soils in the world are in Africa. The soils have been weathered; they have been leached and are low in natural fertility in many areas. And so our bounty is not because we’re so much smarter, but because we have a rich geographic area that has above normal precipitation, and 25% of the world’s class one land. We take it for granted and we shouldn’t.

Does that make you feel a sense of responsibility?

Hunger and poverty are the responsibility of everyone. It’s not just nonprofit groups or church groups. Our corporate leaders have a responsibility, our government has a responsibility, and each of us individually has a responsibility. Sometimes it’s giving gifts to support and other times it’s working with legislatures. It is only going to be through collective efforts that we we’ll see the kinds of improvements that are needed, where the tools, infrastructure, political and economic conditions in these areas provide the resources for the villagers where they have a voice in their future. Then their lives will begin to improve.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Why I am called to help

ron2
Ron Christenson, CTI Board Member and Former Chair

All of us are called to help others. As a CTI donor and board member, I’ve been working to help families in Senegal for many years. But it wasn’t until I recently visited the country that I saw the powerful and lasting impact we can have on poverty with simple tools and a little compassion.

Senegal is a place with a lot of need and a lot to be proud of. Much of the population earns less than $2 per day. The people are friendly and care deeply about building their country. The government is stable and effective.

CTI is working side-by-side with farmers, women’s groups, and artisans in Senegal to equip communities with grain threshing tools so they can produce and sell more food. This gives people the power to improve their own lives.

I recently had the opportunity to join our Senegalese staff for the delivery of a thresher. The joy of the villagers was palpable. It was very fun to witness firsthand. With more time and higher earnings from the additional production provided by CTI tools, this village now has the opportunity to break the subsistence cycle.

Think about what this means for so many children. Often, we read about the child mortality rate in the developing countries and wonder what we can do. Providing these tools is a wonderful first step.

CTI's focus on helping families with post-harvest food production in select countries is resulting in progress. CTI’s threshers are currently being used by close to 200 villages, and we are delivering 150 more this year – reaching more than 40,000 people.

We are making progress by collaborating with many partners. We’re working with government partners to place the tools where they can have the most impact. We have a Senegalese leader of CTI Senegal who is just outstanding. And CTI's executive director, Alexandra Spieldoch, is providing strong leadership. She has a passion for West Africa and is very fluent in French.

CTI has an uncommon series of forces and events coming together to provide for very effective progress in coming years to have a significant impact on poverty in Senegal. Philanthropy through CTI is helping others. And this is very fun and wonderful to see in person. I feel I am helping others in a significant way by supporting CTI!

 

Ron L. Christenson retired from his position as Corporate VP and CTO at Cargill in 2009 after 38 years of service. During his career with Cargill he lived in Argentina and Canada and several locations within the USA while engineering, building and operating food processing plants. He had been responsible for Plant Operations, Food safety and Environment, Health and Safety and Engineering.

Ron has an interest in continuing to help people in the developing world through technology and education. He is supporter of Engineers without Borders. Ron also chairs the Dean's Advisory Board for the Institute of Technology at the University of Minnesota. He has supported the University through scholarships, fellowships and by endowing a chair in renewable energy. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1972. He is a registered professional engineer.

Ron is a member of the Board of Trustees of Science Museum of Minnesota. An avid outdoorsman, he owns a small woodland that he stewards for wildlife.

SteveWebCTI has collaborated with skilled volunteers since we were founded in 1981 by engineers and scientists who sought to use their expertise to fight global hunger. On our design team, you’ll a find a creative and quirky bunch of seasoned experts in a variety of fields. Take Steve Clough, a metallurgist and a top notch welder who helps CTI with equipment design and prototyping.

How does a kid from Detroit grow up to be a world record holder in motorcycle land speed racing and PHD metallurgist who helps fight global hunger in his spare time? Read on to find out:

Where did your creative spark came from?


I was born and raised in the Detroit area until 6th grade when we moved to a small farm 50 miles outside of Detroit. When you’re a farmer, you get involved in fixing and making things.

My whole life, I’ve liked building things.

When I was a little kid my dad had a pile of wood in the corner of the garage and some hand tools that I was always free to use. As a teenager, I was into building hot rods and drag racing motorcycles.

Where did your life take you?


After high school, I enlisted in the Air Force to keep from getting drafted during the Vietnam War. I spent four years in the Air force before getting into Michigan Technological University in 1970. I worked straight through the summers and got my PHD in metallurgical engineering in just about six years. I spent much of my career in surface analysis, which is an analytic technique to look at the surface, chemistry, and metallurgy of materials. Eventually, I started my own company, and then retired in 2011.

I’ve got two vintage 1955 Indian motorcycles, one of which I race — land speed racing in Utah. I established land speed record for my class of motorcycle in 2013 and raised the record in 2016. I’ll be going back this summer to attempt to break my record again.

So, I have hobbies that I’m deeply involved in, but after retirement, I was looking for something to do, not only fill time, but to feel like I’m paying back.

My wife is a registered nurse at the retirement community where the founder of CTI, George Ewing, was living. She and George had become good friends and he was always showing her his latest inventions. One day she came home and said, “George is going to be on TV tonight and we have to watch.” I watched the story on George, and looked at the CTI website and knew wanted to get involved, even if it just meant sweeping the floors.

What inspires you?


I enjoy doing something for somebody who’s not going to be doing anything back for me.

I never knew of efforts like CTI’s to work with very poor farmers. I was more aware of what you read in the news of big programs using automated equipment, but none of it helps the small individual farmer. I probably never even realized how many people are farming on 1, 2, or 3 acres and producing barely enough to feed themselves. I think CTI’s approach is having a big impact by taking these complex machines that we take for granted and turning them into simple machines that are affordable and reliable.

The volunteers I work with primarily are Don and Vern. I think the world of both guys. They’re able to contribute something I’m not and I contribute something they’re not. So, it’s a team effort to try to solve a problem and create a solution that’s lasting and valuable.
Page 1 of 10