The peanut (or groundnut as it is called in West Africa) is an important subsistence crop to hundreds of millions of people across the world. Not only is it important nutritionally, as it provides a convenient source of protein and 30 essential nutrients, but it is also an important source of income for these communities. Often referred to as a "women's crop" in Africa, women traditionally grow, harvest and shell them to supplement their families' diets, but also as a product to bring to market.
Shelling by hand is both time consuming and painful, often leaving open wounds on the sheller's hands. The Universal Nut Sheller (UNS) makes it possible for these women to not only save time and discomfort, but it also increases their nutrition source and income. This increase in income is especially useful for women as it allows them to pay children's school fees, etc.
However, the bigger picture is that this increase in both nutrition and income empowers women in these communities by encouraging better health and economic independence.
Watch the video below to see a woman use the UNS for the first time after a lifetime of shelling by hand. This sheller will allow her to make more money from her peanut butter business.
We would like to thank our friends at Motherland Rhythm Community for implementing this UNS project in Guinea.
THE UNS AND AFLATOXIN
Our Universal Nut Sheller not only increases incomes and food supplies, but it also provides a safer peanut for human consumption and therefore a higher value product. This is due to the fact that storing peanuts without their shell makes them less likely to be contaminated by the toxic fungus Aflatoxin, a top health concern in Africa and the developing world.
Aflatoxin is a dangerous fungus that causes mental and physical stunting in children, liver cancer, and immunosuppression.
Here at Full Belly, we have found that our Sheller can be a practical and powerful tool in eliminating human exposure to Aflatoxin. In addition, we are currently working on a design for an "Aflatoxin Test Kit" that would allow farmers, villages and families to test their peanut supplies before eating them or selling them for others to eat.
The Universal Nut Sheller is our first product and the reason Full Belly was founded.
It is a simple device that can shell several types of nuts, including groundnuts, shea nuts, and coffee beans among others.
It works by turning the handle, which causes the inner concrete cone to rotate inside the outer cone. The nuts are poured into the top, and the friction of the cones causes the shell to separate form the nut.
It takes 5 people 50 hours to shell a 100 pound bag of peanuts.
The Universal Nut Sheller can do it in an hour.
Watch the video below from the 2008 BBC World Challenge to learn more!
In the Spring of 2011, Josh Litwin, a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali presented two Universal Nut Sheller units to the chief and the women's association in the village of Niagadina.
Two local women oversaw the machines and collected a small fee per container of nuts shelled.