shredding-breadfruit

Last year, two CTI volunteers, Larry Rauenhorst and myself, traveled to Haiti carrying two pieces of processing equipment: a shredder designed by CTI’s staff engineer and the latest iteration of a simple shredder that I had been working trying to perfect for several years. Larry and I set out to test and determine the reliability and usefulness of the equipment.

Through the years, CTI has partnered with Haitian organizations and people in an effort to help put Haitians to work processing an underutilized resource, a strange tropical fruit call breadfruit. The fruit grows on trees, mostly along the coast, are picked green (unripe), usually cut up, cooked and eaten like a vegetable. Much of the fruit simply rots and is wasted. CTI volunteers were asked if we could find ways of preserving breadfruit by shredding, drying and grinding breadfruit into shelf-stable flour, which could be made into useful products and help Haiti with better food security. Hand shredding of breadfruit is tedious, so enter myself and Larry, with our new shredders set to be tested.

We were hosted by the Agriculture College of the University of the Nouvelle GrandAnse in Jeremie, Haiti. While only about 100 miles from Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, reaching Jeremie took eight and a half hours over steep mountainous roads. The college provided us with three paid students, and together, we set out to process at least 2,000 pounds of breadfruit in fewer than ten work days.

Larry and I trained the students on processing the fruit to a stable, dry product. This entailed:

  • Cleaning the fruit and equipment river water that’s been disinfected
  • Each lot of ten fruit were weighed, peeled cored, shredded, and laid out to try (unusable peel and core were also weighed)
  • Shed samples were measured for thickness and length

The student teams processed 2,023 lbs of fresh breadfruit in eight days averaging 252.9 lbs per day. The amount of flour made from the ton of fresh breadfruit was 394 lbs.

How did the two shredders fare in the tests? The Mounir design worked wonderfully well and did almost all of the shredding. Red-faced Dave had to admit it was time to go back to the drawing board, make some important changes and perhaps shred another day.

What about the students? Did they continue to do what they had learned to do last year. You Betcha! The August issue of the college newsletter reports that two of the three students we worked with, Marie and Pierre, chose breadfruit processing as their required internship. During this summer alone they processed 215 dozen breadfruit or 6,450 lbs of fresh breadfruit. They now have three contracts with orphanages and schools in Port-au-Prince. They sell breadfruit flour for $2.00 (US) per 12 ounce bag plus shipping and handling. Package includes instructions, recipes and the story of how the breadfruit flour project developed.

Red face Dave, like Marie and Pierre, has learned from his experiences of last year. Previously I depended on others to test my shredder. For whatever reason I was not told of all the things that were wrong with it. I needed to discover those things myself. Stop in to CTI and see the Elton shredder I am now proud of.


dave

David Elton

David has been a volunteer with CTI for many years, focusing on developing breadfruit shredding technologies.

Published in Shredder

Volunteers Arrive in Haiti

CTI volunteer Natalie George is blogging from Haiti, where she’s joined her mother Dr. Camille George, CTI Board Member, Program Manager and Professor at the University of Saint Thomas.

The George’s are in Haiti helping locals take advantage of an underutilized food source: Breadfruit. Breadfruit grows in abundance in Haiti, but spoils just days after ripening. CTI has developed a set of tools that villagers can use to preserve breadfruit as affordable flour.

Natalie and Camille are in Port au Prince, helping Haitians open a breadfruit bakery and showing “field to fork” proof that breadfruit can be harvested, transformed into flour, and processed into delicious and nutritious food products.

First Impressions

Street in Haiti

After departing the airport, we start driving to our hotel and I get my first glimpse of Haiti’s capital city. It reminded me a lot of Mali in West Africa, but with its own twist. The roads are half-paved, half-broken rubble and, the further you get into the city, the more broken and choppy the roads get. There are people EVERYWHERE and like in Africa, many of them transport their goods on their heads. However, their clothing surprisingly resembles that of Americans.

The poverty level is extremely noticeable, more than I have ever seen in my life. I didn’t think that the earthquake’s destruction would still be evident, but it definitely still is. There are severely broken buildings with giant boulders of concrete all about, but there are also buildings right next door which are completely fine.

I notice that there isn’t a road sign in sight. Instead, there’s spray paint on the concrete walls with a name and some numbers. The roads are so twisted I have absolutely no clue how people know where to go!

Each building is surrounded by a giant concrete wall and then a huge metal door. To get inside people just beep a few times and then someone comes and opens this massive metal gate door. The concrete walls all either have barbed wire or cleverly have broken glass bottles along the top of the wall to discourage people from scaling them.

Breadfruit Bakery, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Day 1

On our first day, we wake up at 6:30am and it’s already 90 outside. Our friend Brulan navigates us through the twisty rocky roads, and we approach a random concrete wall and he beeps ever so lightly and someone opens the door.

How will we run a bakery without electricity? Stay tuned for an update!

Published in Uncategorized
Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Tackling Hunger with Breadfruit Tools

Breadfruit is a high-carbohydrate fruit that grows in abundance in tropical nations that struggle with hunger and poverty. Breadfruit has been long recognized for its potential to alleviate hunger in countries like Haiti, but there’s just one problem: fresh breadfruit rots in 48 hours.

But if poor communities were able to make flour out of breadfruit, locally produced breadfruit flour could replace expensive imported cereals and increase food security.

Compatible Technology International (CTI), with help from a team of engineers, researchers and breadfruit experts, is developing a set of tools that will allow villagers to process breadfruit into shelf-stable flour.

Shredder
CTI has designed a manually-operated shredder that shreds breadfruit into small strips that are optimally shaped for quick drying. Engineers at CTI and the University of Saint Thomas (UST) reached the current shredder design after testing other concepts with communities in Haiti.

Drier
After they are shredded, the breadfruit strips must be dried quickly to prevent spoiling. To source the best technologies for this crucial step, UST recently organized and judged a contest challenging teams to develop a simple, effective and affordable breadfruit drying structure.

The first place winner of the contest is a team of long-time CTI volunteers, and second place is a team from the University of California, Davis. In March, both teams will travel to Hawaii to present their designs at the Breadfruit Institute, a division of the National Tropical Botanical Garden.

Grinder
Once dried, breadfruit strips can easily be ground into flour by villagers using CTI’s grinder. The breadfruit processing system will go through rigorous tests at the Breadfruit Institute before being deployed in the Caribbean.

Breadfruit flour could be an important microenterprise opportunity and an untapped source of nutrition for food insecure communities. With your help, we can get these and other innovations into the hands of the communities that need them.

Published in Uncategorized

Malnutrition is widespread in Malawi and Tanzania, particularly among children under five whose diet is deficient in protein, oils and micronutrients. The need is urgent to develop and harvest improved, nutritious foods using locally available crops such as groundnuts (commonly called peanuts). Increased groundnut production can significantly improve individual nutrition as well as economic security.

In September, Compatible Technology International was awarded a Grant from the McKnight Foundation to enhance child nutrition using groundnuts in rural Malawi and Tanzania. CTI will lead the four-year, $673,000 project, which is a partnership with Tanzania’s Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

“This project is essentially about collaborating with these farm families about the crops growing naturally in their environments,” said CTI’s vice president of operations, Bert Rivers. “This collaboration is important, not only to provide additional nutrition to their families, but to also provide increased revenue for their households to improve their livelihood. We are also being educated by the farmers about the realities of their living conditions and farming systems.”

The project will include 3 primary goals:

1)       To develop a nutritious food for post-weaning children
2)       To determine best practices for processing groundnuts
3)       To establish capacity in-country

In the first component of the project, CTI, its partners, and food scientists, will research and develop a nutritional foodstuff for young children using groundnuts and other local staple crops.

Compatible Technology International’s post-harvest processing technology and experience will be instrumental for the second component of the project, in which CTI will help determine the best practices for processing groundnuts in rural Tanzania and Malawi. An integral part of this project will be determining the tools and practices individual farmers need to get the maximum value from their crops.

A fundamental aspect of CTI’s mission is to give people the tools they need to feed and support themselves. The final component of the project incorporates this principle and is essential to the project’s ultimate success. CTI and its partners will be working over the next four years to ensure that they leave behind the tools necessary for local communities to continue to benefit from the project.

CTI volunteer and Technical Advisory Council Member, Steve Clarke inspects the papayas in Tanzania

In late September, CTI volunteer, Steve Clarke and Vice President of Operations, Bert Rivers traveled to Tanzania to kick off the McKnight project. During their trip, they had the opportunity to travel to Morogoro, the home campus of Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA). While at SUA, the CTI travelers were able to meet first hand some more of their collaborators in the project. These face to face meetings gave them the opportunity to put into place some concrete action plans for the project. While in Morogoro they made contact with local fabricators who might become the agents of our capacity building activities in Tanzania.

In the city of Bagamoyo, Bert and Steve met for McKnight’s Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP) for Southern Africa Annual Grantee Meeting. At the gathering, in addition to each Grantee presenting the status report for their project, attendees were introduced to the needs of individual farmers through their participation in the conference’s discussions. McKnight also took the opportunity to present a powerful team of guest speakers who spoke on improving the quality and the depth of the research being conducted by the Grantees.

While all these researchers were present, Bert and Steve had the opportunity to tell CTI’s story, both publically and in one-on-one sessions. It was during these sessions that Steve and Bert believe that CTI made a major impact upon the attendees. They were able to show the track record that CTI has established over the years and the value of CTI technologies for farmers and villagers. Many of the attendees are hungry for what CTI can bring to their communities.

Published in Sothern Africa
Friday, 16 January 2009

Breadfruit Goes Commercial

While numerous traditional methods have been developed to process and store breadfruit, this easy-to-grow, nutritious carbohydrate fruit will never become more than a locally important crop unless economical, reliable methods of extending its shelf-life and commercially processing it are developed.” - Diane Ragone, Director of the Breadfruit Institute, Hawaii

In 1996, Inette Durandis, Director of the Committee on Development (COD) of the Haitian Methodist Church asked CTI to help her commercialize breadfruit, saying “Why can’t we make bread and other food stuffs from this fruit which is so abundant in Haiti?  My farmers are tearing up their coffee trees to plant wheat for a cash crop, but by the third year the land has washed away and now they have nothing.  If we could make breadfruit a cash crop it would be a Godsend.”

CTI and the Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church accepted this challenge.  In spite of a civil war, numerous hurricanes, political embroilments and several false starts, CTI and Hennepin Avenue UMC established a process, conducted taste surveys, and selected the primary equipment necessary to commercialize breadfruit.  A company called SATAG (Antillean Food Processing Corporation) was incorporated into the project, and they wrote a proposal for start-up funding.  CTI volunteers tested recipes and created a commercial product that has much to offer the people of Haiti:

·  A highly nutritious snack food at a very competitive price.
·  A new industry for Haiti that would employ 180 rural people to
harvest and dry the breadfruit.
·  A new business that would employ 32 persons on a one shift basis.
·  A locally-produced cereal that would replace imported cereals.
·  A potentially exportable product.

The Board of Directors of the Banque Nationale de Credit of Haiti met with SATAG Incorporators, Ms. Durandis (COD), and Fred Joseph in December, 2008 to discuss the Breadfruit Project.  There, Board members munched on the breadfruit snack that the CTI/Hennepin Avenue UMC team had processed in South Beloit, WI the previous week.  The product was well received and the bank committed to disburse the necessary funds “in time for sales in September 2009.”   We look forward to the public production of the CTI designed breadfruit snack later this year!

(Thanks to the project team: Hank Garwick, Project Leader, George Ewing, Technical Director, Dave Elton, Drying Process, Christine Nowakowski, Senior Scientist, General Mills and many others including American Extrusion personnel.)

Published in Haiti

This past summer CTI volunteer and St. Thomas engineering professor, Camille George,was invited to the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) by their Ministry of Natural Resources and Development to see if breadfruit, a plentiful food resource, could be dried and ground into flour. Food security and nutrition are two of the most pressing issues for these remote islands, located near the International Date Line and the equator. Mass relocations and financial subsidies after the USA’s nuclear testing program have resulted in a largely sedentary population severed from their traditional culture and currently dependent on imported American food. Obesity in the adult population is over 50% and diabetes is epidemic.

There is a high level of interest in the successful introduction of the harvesting and drying of excess breadfruit, which may also have a substantial social impact. Breadfruit was successfully shredded using the Tommie shredder developed by University of St. Thomas (UST) students, sun dried, and ground into flour using the Omega IV grinder developed by Compatible Technology International. The two machines were mounted on a single production stand and are currently being transported to different Marshallese islands as a first introduction of the technology. At this time a partnership is forming between UST, CTI, the Breadfruit Institute of Hawaii, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands to explore opportunities to use breadfruit commercially and to help strengthen food security.

Published in Newsletter