Aflatoxins are the most toxic naturally occurring carcinogens known.

Aflatoxins are poisonous, cancer-causing chemicals that develop from mold and fungus, often as a result of improper storage and mishandled food. In many parts of Africa, aflatoxin contamination poses a serious risk to the health of rural communities. It’s also a major barrier to their ability to market their crops and earn a profit. 

Engineers at CTI are working in partnership with crop researchers at ICRISAT to develop a testing kit to help farmers and researchers identify aflatoxin in peanuts. ICRISAT has created a simple strip test that develops an easy to read black line to indicate if the peanuts are safe to eat.  CTI is researching simple, low cost technologies that can be adapted to chop the peanuts into a suitable sample size for testing. With a low-cost, field- testing kit, farmers can identify aflatoxin contamination at its source, in minutes, and mitigate a major threat to rural health and incomes.
Published in blog
Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Can peanut farmers crack global poverty?

Groundnut stripper

To Americans, peanuts are a simple food—a snack staple in ballparks and backpacks alike. But for millions of farmers in Malawi, this humble legume may offer a path out of poverty. 

One of the most nutritious foods on the planet, peanuts are rich in protein and healthy fats. They’re also a valuable crop that grows well in Malawi’s hot, dry climate.

Malawi’s small farmers are responsible for 93 percent of the country’s peanut production. But they’re not profiting. Women harvest and process their nuts by hand—work that is exhausting and time-consuming. And when farmers try to sell their harvest, they’re often taken advantage of by vendors who buy low and sell high. So while the farmers are doing the hard work, vendors are getting the profits.

New technologies are changing the game for Malawi’s peanut farmers.

CTI has developed a suite of tools to help farmers harvest and process more peanuts, faster. The tools were designed with input from hundreds of small farmers, who praised them for their ability to shell high-quality nuts. Farmers were confident the tools would help them grow and sell more peanuts—and often asked to buy the prototypes on the spot. Now CTI is working with local manufacturers to get farmers these tools in time for the May harvest.

We’re on a mission to make sure farmers can get their hands on the tools, sell their nuts at a fair price, and profit.

Over the next two years, we’re partnering with farmers’ organizations across Malawi—including NASFAM, the largest smallholder farmer group in the country. Farmers’ groups like NASFAM give farmers access to resources like new technologies, training, and good seed. By working in a group to sell their crops, farmers’ organizations can also help their members get better prices at market.With this partnership, farmers' organizations can now offer CTI's peanut tools to their members—giving farmers the support they need to reap the full benefits of their labor.

CTI Executive Director Alexandra Spieldoch was recently in Malawi to kick off the McKnight-supported project. While there, she met with the President of the Republic of Malawi, Peter Mutharika, to share more about our work.

President Mutharika was supportive of the program, as peanuts are a growing priority for the Malawi government. An agricultural country, Malawi has historically relied on tobacco as its top export crop. With the fall of tobacco, the government is embracing peanuts as a valuable alternative—encouraging farmers to increase their peanut production through seed subsidies and other initiatives.

But most peanut farmers aren’t thinking about export opportunities or how to solve global food insecurity. Instead, they’re wondering if this season’s harvest will be enough to eat and sell. While developing our tools, we interviewed over 200 small farmers in Malawi. They told us that access to the tools would help them increase their incomes, boost nutrition, and improve their quality of life. 97 percent of farmers said they would plant more peanuts if the nuts were easier to harvest and process. Now, we can make easier harvesting and processing a reality.

Published in Groundnuts

We’re excited to announce that a new video covering CTI’s partnership with Meds and Food for Kids in Haiti is online!

Spare six minutes for this one; you won’t regret it. View the video here! 

 

Published in Grinder

CTI volunteers Ed Galle and Dick Fulmer recently returned from a trip to Ghana and Liberia where they worked with several collaborators to conduct extensive grinder training for 25 trainers on the use of the Omega VI (photo), demonstrate the processing of moringa leaf powder and peanut butter, and present CTI’s hand-held corn sheller and the wooden grinder.

President of the Moringa Association of Ghana and friend of CTI, Mozart Adevu, worked with Dick and Ed while they were in Africa, and attested to the quality of the Omega VI for moringa production in his recent newsletter.

“Ed Galle and Dick Fulmer, volunteers of CTI, joined me to travel to Liberia between March 28 and April 4. We conducted 6 demonstrations in 6 separate locations in two Counties, Nimba and Montserrado for over 260 farmers. The enthusiasm during the demonstrations was overwhelming and the farmers and communities indicated the opportunity as a great blessing for them. The situation during some demonstrations are likened to Acts 3:8 as the farmers jumped with joy and praised God with the excitement of the “miracle” of the new possibility for them to mill their products at such a fast rate. They considered this as great “healing” of their situation and prayed to God to sustain the lives of those who help them in such “wondrous” ways. We made the demonstration sessions very practical and participatory. The farmers, especially women, took turns to try their hands on the Omega VI grinder and it was great fun! When some quantity of powder was produced, the participants applauded their efforts and were amazed at the fine and smooth nature of final product…

I will also share these experiences with other countries during my trips and hopefully [the United Methodist Committee on Relief] and CTI could begin a good collaboration to explore the possibility of support for food processing in other countries too.”

Published in West Africa