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Cracking Peanuts to Solve World Hunger
New invention aims to promote peanuts as protein source for developing countries
Tuesday Gutierrez (tuesday74)     Email Article  Print Article 
  Published 2006-07-26 16:02 (KST)   
For most Filipinos, eating peanuts (mani) is an activity almost synonymous to popcorn-munching for Americans. In the narrow streets of Metro Manila, mani easily outsell cigarettes. (No one would disagree with me when I say that the best pica-pica are those big oily and salty roasted golden peanuts mixed with garlic.)

The peanut industry is not only huge in the Philippines, but reaches the farthest corners of the globe to almost 100 countries, feeding 500 million people and serving as an important source of protein. It also provides livelihood for poor people of developing countries, as the demand for imported peanuts in the worldwide market surpasses 20,000 metric tones a year. Most come from China and India, because of their production capability to yield peanuts in volume.

But for such a big industry, the agricultural technology of peanuts is still trailing. People are still shelling peanuts by hand, painfully one by one. (To save on fuel, peanuts are left dried under the sun, which makes their shell hard to open.) In Africa, most of those who do the work are women.

Fortunately, someone has finally cracked the hard "nut case". Jock Brandis, an ex-Peace Corps volunteer and light and sounds engineer, while visiting a friend in Mali saw the heart of the problem and decided to use his technical skills to provide an agricultural solution. Thus the Universal Nut Sheller was born.

The Universal Nut Sheller
©2006 Full Belly Project
Invented by Brandis, the nut sheller can shell peanuts 40 times faster than by hand. Its invention coincided with his establishment of The Full Belly project, which aims "to relieve hunger through appropriate agricultural technology." The goal of the organization is to distribute these machines around the world and make peanuts the number one source of protein of third world countries. Brandis also didn't patent his invention because he believes that it is "a gift to those in need."

Not only can peanuts provide livelihood, but they contains highly nutritious properties that could solve worldwide hunger and eventually poverty -- this time on a full stomach. And for women who are the bearers of the shelling burden, it also provides a liberation.

The machine is made of concrete and simple metal parts and only costs US$50 to make. It can shell "50 kilograms of peanuts per hour, and one machine can serve the needs of a village of 2,000. Its life expectancy is 25 years."

The Full Belly Project is now working in Uganda, Senegal, Zambia, and Ghana. Filipino MIT graduate and Centromigrante social entrepreneur Illac Diaz has also collaborated with the Full Belly Project to bring the sheller to the Philippines. With the help of a local cement company, Diaz and his team will teach locals how to build the machines, this time attaching it to a bicycle system to yield more shelled nuts.

In the Philippines, most peanut farms are located in the semi-arid and drought-prone areas where poor communities are found. It takes one week on a nine-hour work day to shell a two-hectare peanut field.

With the Universal Nut Sheller, Philippine farmers will take a crack in the future at the world peanut market.

The Full Belly Project shows a detailed instruction on how to build the nut shellers. Please check the Web site for more details.

- Cracking Peanuts to Solve World Hunger 

A shorter version of this article appearted at my web blog and at the blog of www.nextbillion.net
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Tuesday Gutierrez

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