Between late 2007 and early 2008, CTI assisted a feeding program of the World Harvest Mission in Bundibugyo, Uganda. This program was originally designed to improve the nutrition of young ones (age 6 – 59 months) at the above location. This mission location, under the supervision of a trained nutritionist from East Carolina University and colleagues from the University of North Carolina, began using our Omega VI grinders to prepare a ready-to-use (RUF) food supplement. When a rapid increase in the children’s weight and health wasobserved, a more detailed study was undertaken.

The high cost
 of imported ready to use therapeutic food (RUTF) prompted attention to the use of a more affordable RUF derived from local food sources. These sources provide micronutrients and do not rely on imported milk powder nor commercial vitamins and minerals. Thus a formulation of soy flour, peanut paste and ground moringa powder was established for optimum weight gain. The children were put into a program of weight gain measurements and the caregivers received a quantity of RUF weekly.  Samples of this formulation called BBB were analyzed at Makerere University and compared to USAID food supplements and a commercially available product (Plumpy’nut).  The total energy, fat, protein, fiber and vitamin C contents of this locally made formulation equaled or exceeded the above noted benchmark supplements. 
                
In Bundibugyo, the BBB program is evolving to increase the potential for long term impact based upon the results of this preliminary evaluation. CTI is proud and delighted to be an on-going part of this program to support those who are helping to sustain those in resource limited areas throughout the developing world, where one-third of the children suffer from under nourishment.

(The data and photos contained in this article were extracted from a paper presented to THE UGANDA NUTRITION CONGRESS, February 19th-20th 2009. The title of the Congress was: ‘The Challenges, Successes and Opportunities to Improve Nutrition.’ CTI’s contribution is recognized in this paper.)

Published in East Africa
Friday, 16 January 2009

Pearl Millet Thresher Update

We are exited to bring everyone up to date on the recent advances in our threshing program. Since last we reported, our Leary Thresher has logged many miles and seen many a millet seed. Here is what has happened…

In late October, Erv Lentz sent our thresher, and then followed it to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) test site in Tifton, GA for field trials. At Tifton, USDA scientist Dr. Jeff Wilson and his team put Erv and the thresher through a series of tests designed to establish its productivity and the quality of the product it produced. We were also interested in determining the ergonomics of the design and the robustness of its construction. Over the course of several days, Dr. Wilson determined that our design was good, but had some durability and ergonomic issues needed to be resolved.  He also established that while the rate of production was acceptable, he had some concerns with the quality of the seeds (percentage of broken seeds) winnowed.  It is not well understood what is an acceptable level of broken seeds in rural areas of Mali; this concern was left in the “to be determined” file.  Given this B+ grading the machine was crated up and sent to the engineers at OneLab Initiative in Columbus, OH.

OneLab Initiative is a group of Battelle engineers and technical people who have put their knowledge and expertise at CTI’s disposal on this thresher project.  Lead by Reade Harpham, these folks are redesigning the unit to improve its durability and ergonomics. They will also be retrofitting the thresher to include a winnowing fan in the basic design. Once Reade and his band of merry thresher engineers have completed their work, the new, freshly minted Leary Thresher will be shipped to Bamako, Mali for field trials. There it will be joined by CTI volunteer Steve Clarke, who with collaboration from more Malian friends of CTI, will determine what further modifications must be made before we have a production ready thresher…..but more on Steve’s work in a later addition!

CTI is proud to include creative thinkers like Jeff Wilson and Reade Harpham into our family of contributors. Many thanks guys!

Published in Thresher

Potato Processing:
Throughout the last two years, CTI volunteers Shiv Murty, Steve Laible, and Nancy Laible have been in contact with Prof. Narendra Shah at the Center for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas (CTARA) at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay to discuss the rural community needs and potential solutions in the region near Mumbai.

A major need in the area is to preserve the potato harvest in a way that will generate income.  To that end, a project to disseminate small-scale equipment to make “processed potato products” was initiated at CTARA. The project involves developing equipment for making puffed potato cubes which can be consumed or sold at market. To help streamline the manufacturing process, CTI offered its potato peeling and slicing equipment from West Bengal.  After a visit to CTIvolunteer Bibek Ray’s potato-processing facilities in Gohaldanga, West Bengal, Prof. Shah and his team decided to purchase the peeler and slicer units for testing. The units will be fabricated in West Bengal and shipped to Mumbai by March where they will be placed with a local entrepreneur for field testing.  It is everyone’s hope that the field tests will prove the equipment useful in streamlining the production of these income-generating puffed potato cubes.

Launch of a “CTI Fellowship” at IIT Bombay: 

CTI has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay to offer a fellowship for one Masters in Technology student to undertake a two year program in Technology and Development at the Center for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas (CTARA). The fellowship will be offered for five years beginning in June 2009.


Funds for this “CTI Fellowship” at CTARA were underwritten by long time CTI supporters Gale and Shivram Murty (IIT Bombay alumnus).  For more than twenty five years, CTI has worked with in-country partner organizations to disseminate technology developed by our dedicated volunteers. With the launch of this program, Shiv and Gale note, “We hope that CTI’s investment in people will be just as beneficial in disseminating our technology. As the “CTI Fellows” complete their studies and join various organizations, their awareness and knowledge of CTI will enable them to integrate our technology solutions into other related programs.”  Over time this program may be extended to other parts of the world with several CTI Fellows around the world making an even greater impact in alleviating hunger and poverty.

(CTARA started a new Masters in Technology program in Technology and Development in July 2007.)

Published in India
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
Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Iringa (Tanzania) Festival

In the recent past, one of the main destinations of our Omega VI grinder has been the Iringa area of Tanzania. The conduit for this distribution has been the St. Paul Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. In the past two years over 20 Omegas have been hand carried to Iringa by this group of dedicated missionaries. Most recently, a group from Our Saviour’s Lutheran in Hastings, MN took seven Omegas for distribution to various preaching points in the region.

On Saturday, November 1st, 2008, the St. Paul Area Synod held an Iringa Festival which brought together the Synod leadership on this project together with the Bishop from Iringa and his leaders. CTI was pleased to support this Festival with an informational booth. We premiered the new video, “This is CTI,” along with grinding demonstrations and other displays. CTI was ably represented by volunteers Jim Sentz, Ralph Thrane and Board member Kathy Junek.

Despite a busy schedule of events, CTI was able to renew many previous associations and to make new contacts. The telling of the CTI story was a key component of our presentations. For those who had heard it before, it reinforced our message; for those hearing it for the first time, we were able to spark an understanding of CTI’s mission and how it meshed with that of the St. Paul Area Synod’s.

Published in East Africa
Tuesday, 16 December 2008

New Solutions in Haiti

CTI volunteer and Technology Committee Chair, Erv Lentz, has solved a major problem for Dr. Pat Wolff of Meds and Food for Kids in Haiti.  Dr. Wolff uses our Omega VI grinder to create Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) for children in Haiti who are suffering from severe malnutrition.  She creates RUTF by first grinding peanuts into paste, then passing the peanut paste through a separate Omega VI with added oil, powdered milk, sugar, and vitamins and minerals.  This “medika mamba” (the translation is “peanut butter medicine”) became syrupy and tended to run out the clearance hole for the shaft in the rear of the hopper.  While this leakage was a housekeeping problem for Dr. Wolff’s operation, it was also inhibiting her from securing approval from UNICEF to expand her operation, so she approached CTI for a solution.

After much research, Erv was able to find a stock die and food grade silicon-rubber sealant for adhering the seal to the hopper wall (see photo).  It works so well it maintained a seal after being run constantly for over a week.  (That’s 2.5 million revolutions on the shaft!)  This rubber seal is low-cost and was sent down to Haiti and adhered to Dr. Wolff’s Omega VI grinders.  CTI volunteer George Farrell reports that the seals were easy to adhere to the grinders and, although he was concerned they would come off when the grinders were cleaned, they have stuck very well and the leakage has stopped!
Dr. Wolff now looks forward to approval of her operation from UNICEF.  Approval may mean that a lot more children will have access to the life-saving Ready to Use Therapeutic Food and many more CTI grinders will be used.  This is another great example of how our volunteers are continually creating simple technical solutions with life-saving results!  Great work Erv!  (To read a recent CNN.com article that mentions Dr. Wolff, follow this link: As Children Starve, World Struggles for Solution.)

Published in Haiti
Tuesday, 16 December 2008

20 Grinders to Ghana

In February of this year CTI volunteers Dick Fulmer and Ed Galle visited Ghana to promote the use of CTI grinders in the moringa industry. As part of their efforts they made a presentation at the Radach Memorial Centre in Tamale, Ghana. This modern facility was conceived as a hospitality haven for people of all walks of life. The Centre provides training in Community Development, Christian Life and Volunteer Services through formal courses and seminars as well as self-study programs.

Dick and Ed made a presentation at the Centre for several dozen people as part of their Community Development programs. The Director of the Centre, Rev. Johnson Asare, immediately saw the value that our grinders could bring to the people that his Centre serves and began discussions with CTI on how we and his organization could work together. The concept would be for Johnson to identify a group of local farmers and entrepreneurs who would use our technology and grinders to produce moringa powder for their own consumption and for sale.

This concept was developed into a business plan during the summer when Johnson visited the CTI headquarters in St. Paul. Accordingly, a partnership was developed with Rev. Asare’s Radach Centre, The Well Church, Fresno, CA, Advancing Native Mission, Afton, VA and CTI. This group is joining together to get 20 Omega VI grinders to the Radach Centre in early 2009. When they arrive, Johnson will gather the trainers for each of the areas where the grinders will be assigned and Dick Fulmer and/or Ed Galle will conduct a series of “train the trainers” sessions at the Radach Centre.

CTI and our supporters should be very proud of the efforts Dick and Ed have made to make this happen! Many thanks Guys!

Published in West Africa
Sunday, 16 November 2008

Crops and Countries

As the global food crisis increasingly impacts millions of people, we are attempting to answer the questions: What nutritious crops are readily available?  Where are they grown?  How can CTI’s post harvest technologies make the nutrients in those native crops available to the people who grow them?

After polling our volunteers and consulting with various agricultural agencies, we developed this chart which we are casually calling “Crops by Country.”

On this chart you will find those crops and locations where CTI’s post harvest technology is currently at work (“Y” or green), and those countries where we know the crops shown are grown, but where our post harvest technologies have not yet been introduced (“P” or yellow).  Click on the sample below to view the chart.

 


As we consider the appropriate technologies for processing these crops in remote rural areas, we are learning that the yield (the percentage of seeds recovered) from current manual processing methods are often as low as 35%. The simple mechanized systems we are developing are generating yields from prototype models of around 75%.  If field test units confirm these results, our technologies can effectively double the yield these farmers and their families will get from their crops.

Think of the impact on the global food supply!  An impact made real through your partnership with us.

Published in Orphan Crops
Sunday, 16 November 2008

CTI Volunteer Visits Malawi

Over the past two years the Northwest Wisconsin Synod of the ELCA, in conjunction with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Malawi (ELCM), has shipped over 30 Omega VI grinders to Malawi. During the month of August, CTI volunteer Hans Zoerb visited Malawi to evaluate the impact that these grinders were having on the lives of those who were being served.

Hans reports that the distribution of the grinders is under the supervision of a nutritionist employed by the Lutheran Development Services of Malawi (LDSM). The primary emphasis of the LDSM is food security.  More specifically, their emphasis is on maximizing commodity production, storage, and conversion to value added food, food products and food ingredients. Since conversion is part of CTI’s core competency, this objective fits well with CTI. The LDSM is very interested in the grinders and supports the training and use of the machines for the production of peanut butter and flours from soy and maize. They also support the use of these machines in emerging micro businesses based at the village level.

The ELCM has placed a very high priority on organizing and developing successful women’s enterprise groups at the village level in order to: elevate the role of women in their societies, make women more effective in combating hunger, and recognizing women as a point of introduction of new ideas and techniques to the communities. The added importance of women’s groups in villages is their connection to the feeding centers. In many of these villages, peanut butter is the primary product because the Omega grinder can produce relatively large quantities of product.  Ground, roasted soy was also a significant part of their production. Both peanut butter and roasted soy bean flour are packaged and sold in 250 gram jars; or, in the case of the feeding stations, carried home by the children.

The program has been so successful that the ELCM is targeting to introduce an additional 15 grinders in the near future so that every outreach point will have their own grinder.

Published in East Africa
Monday, 15 September 2008

CTI Expands Work in Mali

CTI activity in Mali, West Africa, is on the rise. As a result of the recommendation from Dr. Jeff Wilson, USDA pearl millet geneticist and USAID-funded INTSORMIL collaborator based in Georgia (US), ICRISAT has incorporated CTI into its Gates Foundation grant to improve the yields and profitability of rainfed cereals, especially pearl millet and sorghum, in West Africa with special emphasis on empowering women. This is a natural fit given ICRISAT’s focus on pre-harvest production improvements and CTI’s expertise in post-harvest food processing technologies (a role primarily played by women in Africa). Dr. Camille George, University of St. Thomas School of Engineering faculty member and CTI Board member, visited Mali in early summer to discuss the project first-hand with ICRISAT scientist Eva Weltzien and observe village-level millet threshing.

Based on positive peer review of CTI’s pearl millet threshing-cleaning design options by Dr. Wilson last spring as well as further tests currently underway by Dr. Lloyd Rooney at Texas A&M, CTI expects to conduct rigorous and participatory field tests of advanced prototypes, built by Ohio-based and new CTI partner Battelle Institute, in Mali in early 2009 with ICRISAT, Malian colleagues and local farmers. According to international millet scientists, CTI is emerging as the leader in developing post-harvest solutions for pearl millet.

CTI’s work in West Africa started several years ago in Mali, a land-locked country typical of the semi-arid tropical Sahelian zone immediately south of the Sahara and home to Timbuktu. Activity began with the introduction and field testing of CTI’s hand-powered peanut-grain grinders, thanks to collaboration with Iowa-based NGO Medicine for Mali (M4M). M4M distributed grinders as a revenue-generating service in eight villages. Despite occasional glitches, women users have validated the CTI mechanical grinder which they say produces a superior creamy peanut paste with less effort and in much less time compared to the traditional mortar-and-pestle system. It has also been shown to successfully grind other staple food crops in Mali such as millet, sorghum and cowpeas. Grinders are also being evaluated by colleagues at the Ag School, thanks to Belco Tamboura.

Published in West Africa
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