Innovation in Soy Technology to Change Agriculture Game in Malawi


Posted March 31, 2016

The Malawi Oilseed Sector Transformation programme (MOST), a UK AID supported initiative, is introducing a project designed to assist Malawian smallholder farmers in coming out of their… husks – literally. The project in question, is the development and introduction of a mechanical threshing model which is easily replicable throughout the small southern African country, and remains affordable, mobile and home grown.

     
 
Captions: Top, Malawian farmer, Mekesoni Televasi Ohika, of Mchinji, Central Region, Malawi, examines processed soy from his newly fabricated soy thresher; center, Malawi Oilseed Sector Transformation’s (MOST) plans for fabrication of either electric or diesel run soy thresher (download available in the link below); right, A newly fabricated soy thresher ready to go.
 
Innovation in Soy Technology to Change Agriculture Game in Malawi

Lilongwe, Malawi
March 20, 2016
 
The Malawi Oilseed Sector Transformation programme (MOST), a UK AID supported initiative, is introducing a project designed to assist Malawian smallholder farmers in coming out of their… husks – literally. The project in question, is the development and introduction of a mechanical threshing model which is easily replicable throughout the small southern African country, and remains affordable, mobile and home grown.
 
In its essence, the intervention focuses on the challenge of threshing legumes such as soybean, i.e. removing the soy from the tough husks which it grows within. Generally, husk removal is extremely labour intensive ‘work by hand’, and which demands several days to husk even one 50 kg bag. However, with the introduction of this new mobile electric or diesel driven soy thresher, the same 50 kg bag can be processed in around 10 minutes – at a MWK 20/kg decrease in processing costs no less. Adding to this competitive advantage is that these threshers are inexpensive, durable, reasonably mobile and will be locally built. What’s more, these new threshers will save the 10 to 20 per cent of soy yield typically lost through hand threshing. An addition of an extra 120 kg soy to a 0.6 hectare farm for example.
 
So, a cheaper, much more efficient and effective way to thresh you say? ‘How is this done?’ is the question on many minds… The heart of the intervention stems from an innovative approach to the design and fabrication of the new soy thresher. Further is the project’s motivation to not only share these plans with whomever can put them to good use, but of equal importance is the desire to further work towards linking fabricators with smallholder farmers. And through the technological enhancement of such a machine, coupled with the stimulation of market interest, it is expected that Malawi’s soy sector could very well enjoy a much needed lift in deliverance of product to market. A welcome innovation indeed.
 
The business model is in itself promising as well. Average demand for an average smallholder soy processor would be expected to be somewhere around 1,800 kg of soy to be threshed per day, multiplied by MWK 30 per kg, for a total MWK 54,000 per day in processing charges. Multiply that sum by 20 days of processing per month, for MWK 1,080,000, and again multiply for three months of harvesting and you get a total of MWK 3,240,000, or, £3,256 or $4,628 USD respectively. While these figures do not calculate for diesel or electricity costs, they would significantly alter the economy of any processor’s household, and the village surrounding the processor in fact. Furthermore, the thresher can be used on sunflower, pigeon pea and rice thereby extending the period it can be utilised.
 
And this is why MOST’s soy thresher programme is drawing so much attention. It just might deeply affect the way soy is produced, and become an industry game changer. A welcome innovation for a country looking for any competitive edge. Cuan Opperman, MOST Team Lead, views it as a noteworthy moment for Malawian smallholder farmers and entrepreneurs, ‘The introduction of small, locally made, mobile threshers may very well deeply effect the how Malawi views soybean as a profit driven crop, as well as the way business is done locally. A great deal can be both learned and profited from this intervention, and its real beauty is that it is virtually entirely home grown.’
 
Introduction and piloting of the threshers is expected for end of March in Mchinji, Kasungu, Lilongwe, Dedza and Dowa. For detailed fabrication plans of the mechanism, click MOST Thresher Design Manual; for a shorter download of just the manual, click MOST Thresher Design Manual only;  click here for the Thresher Design Manual Appendix or for more information, send emails to: info@most.mw or to see a short video of the soy thresher in action, click the following link: https://youtu.be/VLskfioLSEQ  Or, simply ask a local soy farmer in the above noted areas. Chances are everyone will be talking about this great innovation!

Comments


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April 5, 2016

Appreciate this post. Will try it out.

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