Improving Groundnut Production and Child Nutrition in Malawi and Tanzania

Groundnuts Program

Malnutrition is a serious and widespread problem among children in Malawi and Tanzania—but it doesn’t have to be.

Peanuts are an excellent source of nutrition and they thrive in many parts of African and Asia—where they’re known as “groundnuts.” But without proper tools, groundnut growers face huge obstacles bringing their crop from the field to the market. Women spend most of their day processing their harvest by hand, time that could be spent growing more food or running a business.

In 2009, CTI and our partners (Tanzania’s Sokoine University of Agriculture and ICRISAT) were awarded a grant from the McKnight Foundation to help farming villages in Malawi and Tanzania improve groundnut production and child nutrition. 

The goals of the program include:

  • Reduce food losses in both quality and quantity incurred during post-harvest handling, processing and storing of groundnuts

  • Improve productivity by reducing the drudgery and inefficiencies inherent in hand-processing

  • Raise revenues by connecting growers to fair buyers and through the sale and distribution of higher-value groundnut-based food products

  • Improve nutrition of rural households, especially for weaning children, through the adoption of nutritious recipes based upon groundnuts and locally-available crops

  • Strengthen local capacity by transferring technical and manufacturing expertise to African organizations

Groundnut farmers identify their challenges

Rather than arriving in Africa with pre-determined solutions and tools in hand, we knew it would be essential to start by listening to the farmers and letting them identify their needs.

During the first year of the program, we traveled to 32 communities in Malawi and Tanzania to interview hundreds of families about the challenges they face producing groundnuts and struggling to feed their families.

Across communities and countries, the farmers consistently expressed frustration with harvesting, stripping, and shelling groundnuts - operations which are usually performed tediously by hand and largely by women.

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

We consider small farmers in Malawi and Tanzania to be our co-designers and they continue to supply their input during regular field tests.

During the final phase of the program, we will transfer the groundnut technologies that have been developed to fabricators in Africa. Improved equipment for processing groundnuts will mean larger yields for farmers, higher-valued nuts, and more time for women to devote to nurturing their families and pursuing entrepreneurial, revenue-generating activities.

Groundnut Stripper Delivered

In the spring of 2012, 32 rural villages in Malawi and Tanzania received the first delivery of CTI’s prototype groundnut strippers. The equipment is constructed from a metal frame covered with woven metal—a material similar to chain link fencing. When a farmer slides a groundnut plant across the metal, the nuts get snagged and easily pop off the plant. The groundnut strippers are a vast improvement upon the traditional processing methods, where women tediously strip the groundnut pods from the plant by hand, one pod at a time.

With the CTI groundnut stripper, farmers can strip their groundnut pods about 3x faster than doing so by hand.

In addition to the stripper, CTI is developing equipment for harvesting and shelling groundnuts. Click here to read more about our progress.


Groundnut ToolsBox

Groundnut Tools
A set of tools being developed for harvesting, stripping and shelling groundnuts (also known as peanuts).

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