Farmers who grow peanuts, a popular crop in Malawi, confront obstacles particularly on the production and harvest side. Currently, peanuts are shelled by hand – a painstaking, labor-intensive process, especially when dealing with harvests of several hundred tons. Plus, the longer the peanuts stay in their shells, the greater the risk of aflatoxin contamination – which causes liver damage, cancer, and is particularly toxic for anyone with a compromised immune system. Aflatoxin contamination also prevents Malawi from exporting its groundnuts to markets that can provide a good price for the crop, because the United States and European Union have very high standards governing the amount of aflatoxin producing bacteria that can be present in any imported food.
A high-quality peanut sheller, which can be purchased for about $10,000, can dramatically improve outcomes for the thousands of smallholder farmers in our Anchor Farm project. The sheller will increase productivity by operating at more than 100 times the rate of handshelling; reduce the risk of contamination by toxins that multiply in unshelled nuts; and increase the dollar value of the peanut crop.