SAN ANDRES ITZAPA, Guatemala— Every year, women in Africa spend about four billion hours shelling peanuts by hand at a rate of about two pounds per hour. Their hands absorb the toxic aflatoxins that can develop on the outside of the peanut shell. Now there are solutions to this problem, among others.
Children at a Ugandan orphanage can now access power from a pedal-powered generator that is attached to a bicycle. The orphanage workers’ daily bicycle commute is four miles to six miles long, and now they can harvest energy during their commute. The generator converts the energy into electricity that is held for storage in a battery.
Two Human Legs Have Eight Times the Power of One Human Arm
The Full Belly Project’s award winning Universal Nut Sheller shells nuts at a rate of 120 pounds per hour. The peanuts contaminated with aflatoxin pass through the nut sheller unshelled for easy sorting.
Items like the Universal Nut Sheller help farmers increase productivity and sell locally. The Full Belly Project aims to develop and distribute agricultural technology to help farmers across the world. The project builds equipment like the nut sheller, which can be locally manufactured, operated and repaired, using readily available materials and labor.
The project’s first product, The Pedal Platform, was built on the notion that two human legs have eight times the power of one human arm. The Pedal Platform can be fitted with attachments such as the nut sheller for speeding up common agricultural processes. The record result for the machine is 2,000 pounds of cleaned peanuts ready for market in a day by five women in southern Guyana.
Fixing More Than Just Bicycles
Established in 1997 in the Guatemalan town of San Andrés Itzapa by Carlos Marroquin, Maya Pedal refurbishes bicycles and makes them into pedal-powered machines including blenders, grinders, water pumps, nut shellers and coffee roasters.
The nonprofit organization created a bicycle mill which has the capacity to mill three pounds of grain per minute. The machine is commonly used for milling yellow maize, soybeans and coffee. The thresher machine is used post-harvest and can de-grain 12,000 pounds to 15,000 pounds per day.
A local women’s group uses a Maya Pedal machine to make shampoo, which provides them with income. Sales of the shampoo have also helped buy saplings for an independently-run, local reforestation project. The women make the shampoo from aloe produced in their homes.
Another group, Family Group Lirio de los Valles, produces organic animal feed using a bicycle mill to de-grain corn that is used to feed chickens, turkeys, ducks and pigs. The group mills about 300 pounds of feed per day.
Maya Pedal also rebuilds bicycles from donated parts and sells them to local people at affordable prices. The Guatemala-based workshop is staffed by locals and volunteers from around the world. The organization also partners with local NGOs, agricultural cooperatives and organic producers.
Many companies have started making life-altering machines and devices that help alleviate global poverty by increasing agricultural outputs, improving working conditions and bringing electricity to rural areas.
Sources: The Huffington Post, Maya Pedal, Fully Belly Project, Jewish Business News