Grain legumes are a nutritious and valuable group of crops that are vital to food security and the economy in Malawi and throughout Southeast Africa. However, smallholders’ reliance on traditional labor intensive crop and food processing methods is a major constraint on their productivity. Traditional postharvest operations result in damaged legumes contaminated with debris, molds, and aflatoxin, which contributes to food loss, limits their market potential, and undermines the health of rural communities. Bountifield International has developed a suite of groundnut postharvest technologies that reduce smallholders’ time and labor, improve groundnut quality, and increase market potential by mitigating practices that contribute to mold and aflatoxin contamination. With support from the McKnight Foundation, a team of researchers led by Bountifield International (formerly Compatible Technology International), ICRISAT, and NASFAM collaborated on research to test out payment and equipment adoption models among smallholders. For farmers, time and labor savings are the most significant advantage of adopting the equipment because it enables them to increase their groundnut acreage, sell more groundnuts, and pursue alternative economic activities. This research showed that farmers can and are willing to pay for them.
This project aims to research how mechanized groundnut technologies can be linked to business models that strengthen food and nutrition security as well as economic opportunity in smallholder markets. This includes postharvest handling and value addition. The project will develop food technology centers that bring together tools, training, and crop and food processing. The project will engage with farmer research networks targeting food safety, technical and business training. Priority will be given to women and youth, acknowledging the opportunity to address those who are most marginalized in terms of their access to, participation in, and benefit from agricultural production.
Outputs and Outcomes:
The proposal is structured around three objectives, each with a set of outcomes and outputs. The first objective is to further adoption through local food processing (Food Technology Centers). This is expected to help increase rural women and youth’s access to groundnut technologies that contribute to a range of benefits including increased labor productivity, reduced drudgery of harvest/postharvest work, improved quality of food production, reduced postharvest losses, and improved rural health and nutrition. Outputs contributing to this outcome are data on farmer return on investment under varying business models; marketing plan/materials (promoting equipment and FTCs); data on incidence of aflatoxin contamination; and a report on the effectiveness of FTCs and their economic viability.
The second objective is to develop regional potential for scaling groundnut technologies. Expected outcomes are to increase awareness of groundnut technologies and their benefits among smallholders in Tanzania; determine the potential for developing technology supply chains and partners for expanding access and adoption in Tanzania; and profile the target smallholder market in Tanzania for groundnut equipment. Specific outputs to contribute to these outcomes are feedback data regarding the demonstration of the equipment and expected impacts on smallholders’ production and sale of groundnut; and a report on market research for groundnut postharvest technologies in Tanzania.
The third objective is to expand postharvest technology research for smallholder grain legume producers. The expected outcome is a set of farmer-centered postharvest technology solutions for grain legumes that can be scaled in Southeast Africa. By the end of the project, a prototype for a multi-purpose legume thresher will be available, taking into account an assessment of end-user needs and market potential