MFK Gets Cranking!

From: MFK Agriculture Team

Meds & Food for Kids was a proud recipient of a grant from the Lake Elmo Rotary Club in Lake Elmo, Minnesota. Grant funds were used to purchase a hand-crank peanut sheller and an aspirator.

Shelling the peanuts by hand.
Shelling the peanuts by hand.

MFK must test peanuts for aflatoxin, a dangerous group of carcinogens linked to liver damage and certain cancers when ingested. In order to test the peanuts, they must first be shelled. Prior to this grant, MFK had to hand-shell all the peanuts for inspection. This was time consuming and often required MFK to hire additional people to shell the peanuts by hand, which contributed to the high cost of procuring locally-grown peanuts in Haiti.

The Lake Elmo Rotary Club grant covered the cost of purchasing a mobile sheller and aspirator.  This equipment was designed by Frank Nolin, a retired engineer who spent his career designing large-scale, commercial peanut processing equipment. Nolin, of Frank’s Designs for Peanuts, now focuses on designing technologies for use in the developing world.  The hand-crank sheller and aspirator has allowed MFK to streamline its field inspections and purchasing procedures.

The new hand-crank sheller in action.

The peanuts are first put into the sheller, where the peanut shells are crushed to break the kernels loose, resulting in a mix of shell pieces and kernels. After a brief hand threshing, the peanuts are put into the aspirator, which separates the shell pieces from the kernels by creating an airflow that blows the lighter-weight shell pieces apart from the peanut kernels.

What does this mean for MFK? MFK is now able to shell and inspect nearly double the amount of peanuts as before. After implementing use of the mechanized sheller and aspirator, MFK can inspect 4,500kg of peanuts per day, up from 2,300kg when shelling by hand! Previously, MFK needed 10 days to complete field inspections for 20,000kg of peanuts but now it takes approximately 4.5 days!

The new hand-crank sheller and aspirator allows MFK to spend less time during peanut inspection, reducing the cost for MFK to purchase peanuts from within Haiti. Special thanks to the Lake Elmo Rotary Club for their generous support of Meds & Food for Kids and smallholder farmers in Haiti!