Guyana peanuts

Peanut grinders inspire entrepreneurs and provide nutrition for schoolchildren in Guyana

In 2002, USAID awarded a grant to the Peanut Collaborative Research Support Program (CRSP) project in Guyana. The goal of the project was to increase peanut production and increase income at the village level in Region 926,000 sq. miles known as the Rupununi.

Peanut CRSP was immensely successfulby its third year of operation, peanut production in the Rupununi more than tripled. However, the increase in peanut production resulted in a "peanut market crash" and local Amerindian farmers were drowning in unsold peanuts.

To address the peanut surplus, a Guyanese NGO and the Guyana Ministry of Education (MOE) implemented a school snack program in seven villages across the Rupununi in 2005. In each village, Amerindian women organized themselves and initiated processing activities in groups called "cottage industries."

Rupununi EnterpriseThe cottage industries purchase raw materials (peanuts, cassava and fruit) from local farmers and use CTI Omega VI grinders to make peanut butter. They serve peanut butter/cassava bread sandwiches with a fruit drink to an average of 1,400 nursery and primary school students every day. The women in the cottage industries are paid for their work by the MOE.

CTI volunteers Hank Garwick and Dave Elton recently attended the annual Georgia Peanut Tour and during their visit, they interviewed Robert Kemerait - a University of Georgia professor involved with Peanut CRSP - about the school snack program.

Kemerait reported that the snack project has been "unbelievably successful. The children love the cassava bread sandwiches with peanut butter [and] the famers are getting a better value.

Guyana Schoolchildren

"[The Omega VI grinder] has allowed the women to be employed, it has given them the opportunity - for most of them to have the first opportunity - in their lives to earn money and to have some income to put towards their family's needs," Kemerait added.

By using local products to create snacks consumed in local schools, this innovative project created a sustainable program that improved the lives of 200 farmers who now have better markets, created jobs for 50 women employed in the cottage industries, and improved the nutrition and learning capacity of thousands of schoolchildren. In January 2011, the program was expanded to reach 47 villages and 3,500 students.