Traditional Millet Winnow

Pearl Millet Tools

Farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa lose $4 billion worth of grain every year after harvest — that’s equivalent to the entire value of food aid sent to the region during the past decade.

We can save Africa's grain. 

Grain losses begin occurring immediately after harvest, when farmers must rely on rudimentary hand tools like the mortar and pestle to process their grain into edible food. Traditional grain processing results in high post-harvest grain losses, it causes damaged and contaminated grain, and it limits the amount of food farmers can produce for home consumption and market sale.

CTI has developed manually-operated grain processing tools that could feed millions. 

CTI’s pearl millet tools are a set of grain processing tools designed to help small farmers — women in particular — significantly increase their yields of pearl millet grain while minimizing the drudgery and losses that occur with traditional processing methods.

The Pearl Millet Tools includes a manually-operated stripper, thresher, winnower and grinder which:

  • Captures more than 90% of grain–a dramatic reduction in food waste
  • Produces high-quality, clean grain free of dirt and debris
  • Provides a source of revenue for farmers 

CTI has launched a pilot project in Senegal to begin selling the grain tools at an affordable price to farmers and entreprenuers. With support from Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation, a program funded by USAID and implemented by Fintrac Inc., CTI has provided tools and training to 20 communities, cooperates and women’s associations. In addition to USAID's support, CTI also received a separate grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to conduct long-term evaluation and impact monitoring of the millet tools in rural villages.


Why Pearl Millet

Pearl millet is one of the most important crops of the developing world. About 500 million people depend on this nutritious and drought-tolerant grain for their livelihoods. Pearl millet is a primary food source for poor communities in West Africa, where it’s grown almost entirely at the subsistence level and processed primarily by women. Traditionally, women and girls spend hours processing their pearl millet grain by breaking it apart in a mortar & pestle and winnowing it in the wind—an extremely wasteful practice.

Grain Stripper

Grain Stripper

With a simple turn of the handle, CTI’s grain stripper takes pearl millet grain clean off the stalk in seconds, with virtually no waste.

Traditionally, women have to beat on the ground or in a mortar and pestle for hours, spilling much of their precious grain in the process.


Grain Thresher

Grain Thresher

CTI’s Grain Thresher separates pearl millet chaff from the grain.

The thresher can produce in minutes what would take women hours of work pounding a mortar and pestle.


Grain Winnower

Grain Winnower

Farmers can fill a bucket of clean pearl millet grain in minutes using CTI’s winnower.

Traditionally, winnowing is a very wasteful process in which women toss or pour their threshed grain into the air, relying on the wind to blow the chaff away. CTI's winnower uses a hand-operated fan to separate the chaff and other inedible plant material from the grain—enabling women to keep over 90% of their grain, nearly double what they can produce by hand.


Key supporters & collaborators: Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation,Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mosaic Company FoundationICRISAT, OneLab Initiative, National Cooperative Business Association, John P. and Eleanor R. Yackel Foundation, Saint Andrew's Lutheran Church