Creating Food Processing Machines for Women

11% of the world’s population rely on cassava as a staple food, especially throughout Western Africa and similar tropical climates. In Ghana, cassava is routinely grated to prepare gari, a couscous-like, shelf-stable product. Women run small gari-producing businesses and provide a majority of the labor needed in this processing, though they have little access to appropriate technology or agricultural credit as compared to men. ADE is creating mini post-harvest processing machines accessible to women producing value added foods to reduce their burden and grow their small businesses.

Small-Scale Graters for Food Production

Women need to spend at least 90 hours hand grating a typical season’s cassava output. This is done at risk to themselves, as their hands can run in to the teeth and their backs remain in a bent position during the operation. Machine grating alternatives exist, but they are inaccessible and unaffordable to rural women. 

ADE_Ghana_Peeling_Cassava

The Mini Grater cuts the total grating time by 85%, is relatively affordable, and can be bought on credit. After owning the machine, women report using the time saved to devote more resources to other crops and better provide for their families in the home. Women also rent the machines to others in their community, generally uplifting those around them.

ADE_Ghana_Using_Grater

Machines are deployed in many communities with numerous requests for additional machines. The machine’s desirability and proven return on investment have poised the venture to expand, and scale to a 50 machine production and distribution test.

Work on this project includes:

  • Conducting value engineering to reduce costs and improve manufacturability.
  • Creating new production jigs to refine the manufacturing process.
  • Managing distribution, sales and machine servicing.
  • Identifying local supply chain partners for key components.

ADE_Ghana_Students_Working

Small-Scale Press for Gari Production

In gari production, after the cassava is grated, it must be dried and fermented. The cassava is packed into a bag onto which large rocks are placed. This technique does not remove liquid efficiently and requires too much strength for a woman to do alone. Mechanized presses are equally inaccessible to women in rural areas.

ADE_Ghana_Pressing_Rocks

Several Mini Presses using different pressing methods have been co-designed, built and tested in Ghana. A swinging double-lead-screw design has been further improved upon and sold. Multiple additional orders already exist for these presses. With the Mini Press, women are able to operate the machines on their own, store the cassava sacks off the ground, and press out the liquid in a matter of hours.

ADE_Ghana_Press_Product

Work on this project includes:

  • Creating a refined press design for improved manufacturability.
  • Conducting value engineering to reduce costs.  
  • Identifying supply chains and working with partners to begin scaling up.

ADE_Ghana_Press_Work