The Iketsetse single stroke maize sheller makes an otherwise very labor intensive job easy. It saves hours of strenuous monotonous hand labor now done mostly by women and children, freeing up time for other important work. The traditional method in Lesotho and other countries is to separate the kernels from the cob with the bare hands or another cob or a stone. The single stroke sheller is at least sixteen times faster than this method and 6 times faster than crank type shellers. It can be easily manufactured by skilled local metalworkers and adapted for production with other available materials. It consists of a leveraged plunger that simply pushes the ear of maize through a ring of spring teeth arranged so as to remove all the kernels from the cob with one motion.
In Lesotho and other developing countries food insecurity is a growing problem. We are addressing this by improving family incomes in both food and money. In Lesotho eighty percent of people are engaged in subsistence agriculture. Harvests have diminished by as much as fifty percent over the last few decades and unemployment is around fifty percent. Iketsetse is combating this problem on three fronts: 1) Teaching sustainable agriculture 2) Designing better agricultural tools and training people in the skills to manufacture those tools and helping them start their own businesses 3) Providing training in income generating activities such as beekeeping. Specifically our maize sheller greatly reduces time in processing maize, provides the opportunity for supplementing income by subcontracting shelling services and provides incomes for those that build and sell it. The sheller is one of several tools we have designed and manufactured in Lesotho.
Lesotho is a very poor country but farmers find the price of $65 U.S. affordable given the benefits they can derive from the use of the maize sheller. The price is set based on a balance between affordability to the farmer and profit to the local craftsman hoping to benefit both. Currently an apprenticeship model is developed whereby apprentices work in the shop to gain the required skills while earning stipends to support themselves. Thereby, they get help to save money toward setting up their own shops. This project is supposed to become as self supporting as possible but funds to support trainings and loans to set up workshops could possibly speed up the diffusion of the solution.
In the shop in Lesotho the costs to produce an Iketsetse Single Stroke Maize Sheller are:
- Costs of Materials 19$
- Labor costs is 12$
- Consumables estimated at 4$
- Overhead estimated at 6$
So the total to produce one is approximately 41$. Adding a cost of sales of 15% or 10$ and profit of 10$ allows to sell it for 65$.
The machine can yield 20 liters of shelled kernels in 18-20 minutes. The local rate for this service is 0.50$ which would provide 1.50$ per hour which is twice the going wage rate for skilled labor.
Organization: Iketsetse Micro Enterprise Development Company
Contact: Terence Ellard