Groundnut is an important crop in Malawi and Mozambique. It is labor intensive with limited mechanisation leading to low labor use efficiency, post-harvest losses and predisposition to aflatoxin contamination. Women are the major producers of groundnut and the work is time-consuming and involves drudgery. Kernel sorting is done manually, but mechanization would make a substantial contribution to reducing exposure to aflatoxins. Consumption of aflatoxin-contaminated products can cause death although for the most part, chronic consumption causes stunting, immune compromise and impaired growth especially in children below five years.In a previous phase of the research in 2009-13 some important advances were made. A prototype groundnut lifter, stripper and sheller were developed and field trials showed them to be 4, 3 and 18 times more efficient, respectively, than manual operations. The equipment was tested with farmer groups who are available to engage in further research and development activities to optimize the equipment and assess new types of machinery. This project builds on the earlier work by making the labor saving equipment available to farmers, developing new technologies, and evaluating their uptake by end users.
The purpose of the project is to enhance productivity and competitiveness of groundnut-based cropping systems in Malawi and Mozambique by deploying drudgery reducing and food safety promoting technologies for smallholder farmers. The project will test and deploy a suite of technologies that reduce drudgery and free up the time for farmers, especially women, to engage in other livelihood opportunities. New grading equipment will be developed that will contribute to aflatoxin mitigation. The project will also develop appropriate technology access models for wider benefits and learning by the project team and other CoP members.