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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.