rsz dsc01413

Peanuts—also known as groundnuts—are a nutritious crop with immense untapped potential to improve food security, nutrition, and economic well-being in Africa. In Malawi, peanuts are widely cultivated by smallholder farmers in rural communities, where women perform labor-intensive harvest and postharvest operations by hand.

As a valuable cash crop, increasing the production and sale of groundnuts could greatly improve the lives of farmers and their communities. But without proper tools, groundnut growers face huge obstacles bringing their crop from field to market.

Beginning in 2009, CTI interviewed hundreds of families about the challenges they face producing groundnuts. Across communities, farmers consistently expressed frustration with harvesting, stripping, and shelling groundnuts—operations that are typically performed by hand and primarily by women.

In response to the self-identified needs of the farmers, CTI has designed affordable, manually-operated groundnut processing tools.

CTI’s groundnut tools dramatically increase farmers’ productivity, improve the quality of their peanuts, and reduce women’s labor. The prototypes dig and lift peanuts from the ground (harvesting), strip peanut pods from the plant, and shell the nuts.

CTI’s groundnut tools allow smallholder farmers to:

  • Process groundnuts 10x more efficiently than current methods
  • Increase the value and quality of their crop by reducing the frequency of broken kernels
  • Earn higher incomes by growing, processing, and selling more nuts in higher-end markets
  • Allow more time for women to pursue entrepreneurial, revenue-generating activities
  • Strengthen food security as a result of increased incomes and production rates

In 2016, the groundnut technologies will be fabricated in Malawi and distributed to rural smallholder farmers in the East African country. Our team will measure the value and impact (both social and economic) of the tools and identify models for improving farmers’ access to markets. This research is key to understanding how the tools fit into the current groundnut market, laying the groundwork for scaled distribution to farmers in East Africa and beyond.

Increasing Senegal's Harvest with CTI's Grain Thresher

rsz 2img 3099

CTI's grain thresher is a hand-operated technology designed to help pearl millet farmers increase their yields and their incomes.

Pearl millet is a nutritious cereal grain that grows in some of Africa’s most famine-prone regions, producing reliable yields in dry, hot climates with poor soil quality. In Senegal, pearl millet is primarily produced at the subsistence level and hand-processed by women and girls. Though pearl millet is a major source of nutrition for the rural poor, its production and market potential are limited by traditional processing methods and a lack of access to improved technologies.

Agricultural mechanization is a key component of rural development, capable of reducing the processing time, drudgery, and food waste associated with traditional methods.

Our thresher is an affordable, three-in-one tool that significantly increases farmers’ yields in a fraction of the processing time.

CTI’s thresher strips, threshes, and winnows grain in a process that:

  • Produces high-quality, clean grain free of dirt and debris
  • Produces grain 5x faster than traditional methods
  • Captures more than 90% of farmers’ grain 

The thresher also provides farmers and entrepreneurs an opportunity to earn money renting out use of the tool. In the pilot product launch, CTI introduced the idea of selling threshing services to neighbors, letting each entrepreneur select an appropriate service for their community. Upon returning to the communities, CTI was pleased to learn this fee-for-service model has been effective among most of the communities.

CTI is partnering with Senegal’s agricultural extension agency ANCAR to distribute the thresher to farmers' organizations throughout the country and to establish permanent manufacturing and distribution partners in Senegal. 


Partnering to Bring Safe Drinking Water to Rural Nicaragua

Unsafe drinking water is one of the single greatest threats to human health. Globally, waterborne diseases are the second leading cause of death for children under the age of five, killing an estimated 1,400 children every day.

Drinking water contamination is endemic in Nicaragua, which is both the largest and the poorest country in Central America. Rural families often drink untreated water sourced from polluted rivers and streams—water that frequently contains disease-causing pathogens from animal and human fecal matter. A 2010 World Health Organization study found that “[fecal] contamination of water sources is a serious problem in Nicaragua, and that water sources in 90% of the municipalities of the country may be contaminated.”

Access to safe drinking water is a key step to building healthier communities, increasing productivity and school attendance, and enabling sustained economic growth.

When communities gain access to clean water, not only are lives saved, diseases are significantly reduced—translating to a population that is healthier, better educated, and more productive. Numerous studies have shown that for every $1 invested in clean water and sanitation yields an economic return of between $4 and $8.

CTI’s Water Chlorinator helps villagers in rural Nicaragua treat the contaminated water sources in their communities.

The CTI Water Chlorinator was specifically designed to serve rural communities—it is easily assembled in-country, does not require electricity, and can be sustainably maintained without ongoing outside assistance. The inexpensive system utilizes chlorine tablets to produce clean water for an entire village for just pennies per day. The chlorinator attaches to a gravity-fed water tank, delivering a controlled dosage of chlorine that kills most disease-causing pathogens, making the water safe to drink. Water chlorination is a safe, low-cost method of treating drinking water, hailed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an extremely effective method of providing potable water in a village setting.

CTI and our partners at local NGOs travel throughout Nicaragua by bus, motorcycle, and foot to reach remote rural villages, where they help locals assemble the chlorinator and attach it to their community water tanks. In each community, we partner with formal water committees, called CAPS (Comite de Agua Potable y Saneamiento, or Potable Water and Sanitation Committee). The CAPS purchase the Water Chlorinators and maintain the systems—replenishing the chlorine tablets and using testing kits to regularly check for safe chlorine levels. CAPS volunteers also collect a few cents from families to fund the replacement chlorine tablets every few months, so the communities aren’t dependent on outside funding to maintain their sources of safe water.

To keep a constant supply of chlorine tablets within short distance from local villages, we've created over 20 regional chlorine banks that hold small inventories of tablets. This ensures that chlorination systems remain in operation at all times.

To expand the reach of our chlorinators, CTI partners with Nicaragua-based development organizations (EOS International and Self-Help International) that install chlorinators in additional regions of the country. We also partner with the Nicaraguan Health Ministry, who accompanies our staff to the villages to provide communities with health and sanitation education.

More than 340,000 people in rural Nicaragua have gained access to safe drinking water through the installation of CTI’s water chlorinator.

View CTI's Reach in a larger map

ProgramsSince 1981, our programs have connected smallholder farmers with CTI technologies to increase food and water security, raise incomes, and improve livelihoods. We partner with communities directly, collaborating with local farmers to design and distribute our tools. CTI also partners with individuals, nonprofits, and universities, particularly those that have well-established relationships with local communities.

Together, we help smallholder farmers and their communities to:

  • Improve production of high-quality, nutritious food
  • Reduce drudgery
  • Increase yields
  • Access safe drinking water
  • Become entrepreneurs

NicaraguaEmpowering Nicaragua with safe water
Learn More 

SenegalIncreasing grain yields in Senegal
Learn More

rsz dsc01414Improving groundnut production and child nutrition in Malawi
Learn More