Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Looking Back: Peanut Processing with CTI Grinders in Guyana

Thirty years ago, CTI was started by a group of missionaries, research engineers, and General Mills food scientists. Throughout our history, our goal has remained the same: to alleviate hunger and poverty in the developing world by designing and distributing simple, life-changing food and water technologies. 

As we look back over the years, we're reminded of how simple technology, creative solutions, and passionate volunteers can make a difference around the world.


In 2002, USAID awarded a grant to the Peanut Collaborative Research Support Program (CRSP) project in Guyana. The goal of the project was to increase peanut production and increase income at the village level in Region 9 - 26,000 sq. miles known as the Rupununi. Peanut CRSP was immensely successful - by its third year of operation, peanut production in the Rupununi more than tripled. However, the increase in peanut production resulted in a "peanut market crash" and local Amerindian farmers were drowning in unsold peanuts. 

To address the peanut surplus, a Guyanese NGO and the Guyana Ministry of Education (MOE) implemented a school snack program in seven villages across the Rupununi in 2005. In each village, Amerindian women organized themselves and initiated processing activities in groups called "cottage industries." 

The cottage industries purchase raw materials (peanuts, cassava and fruit) from local farmers and use CTI Omega VI grinders to make peanut butter. They serve peanut butter/cassava bread sandwiches with a fruit drink to an average of 1,400 nursery and primary school students every day. The women in the cottage industries are paid for their work by the MOE. 

By using local products to create snacks consumed in local schools, this innovative project created a sustainable program that improved the lives of 200 farmers who now have better markets, created jobs for 50 women employed in the cottage industries, and improved the nutrition and learning capacity of 1,400 schoolchildren.

Recent Developments
In January 2010, the Guyana MOE signed an agreement with the Society for Sustainable Operational Strategies (SSOS) to expand the snack program to a total of 33 villages in the Rupununi, increasing the number of nursery and primary school students to 3,000. By December 2010, the program was active in 41 villages, surpassing its goal.

On January 6, 2011, the MOE and SSOS signed a new agreement to expand and consolidate this program to 47 villages with a target of 3,500 students.

CTI volunteers Hank Garwick and Dave Elton recently attended the annual Georgia Peanut Tour and during their visit, they interviewed Robert Kemerait - a University of Georgia professor involved with Peanut CRSP - about the school snack program.

Kemerait reported that the snack project has been "unbelievably successful. The children love the cassava bread sandwiches with peanut butter [and] the famers are getting a better value." 

"[The Omega VI grinder] has allowed the women to be employed, it has given them the opportunity - for most of them to have the first opportunity - in their lives to earn money and to have some income to put towards their family's needs," Kemerait added. 

This project, like all our projects, couldn't have been successful without CTI supporters and volunteers. Here's to another 30 years of success stories like this one.

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