|Fabricators build a multi-crop thresher using the skills |
and training from the FirstWave-hosted SIL thresher
fabrication workshop. Photo credit: Anson Knausenberger
for a crop like soybean, traditional labor and threshing methods end up leading to as much as 10 percent post-harvest loss, as compared to as little as 0.2 percent loss when farmers
In addition, threshing soybean by hand is not just primarily driven by women and children who inhale soy particulate matter, but it can be up to 40 times slower than using a Soybean Innovation Lab (SIL)-designed multi-crop thresher.
Reduced product quality from breakage and contamination introduced during manual threshing further minimizes demand for local supply for farmers already at the mercy of an opaque supply chain, which forces them to take low prices offered by “briefcase buyers”. In the end, farmers are less motivated to grow a crop that should transform household incomes, and more conscientious buyers are forced to pay an unnecessary premium on the product that ends up in the market.
SIL’s multi-crop thresher is an innovation designed to address the gap between output and labor. With training from the Soybean Innovation Lab (SIL), FirstWave Group (FWC) was able to set up an operation with a local manufacturing partner, Tanelec Zambia, to create dozens of threshers in the coming months.
|FirstWave Group hosted a thresher fabrication workshop |
in Nodola, Zambia in early March 2020.
Photo credit: Anson Knausenberger
In just 3 weeks, FWC, SIL and Tanelec manufactured 17 multi-crop threshers, which FWC has already begun to field test, modify and deploy to smallholder farmers. The goal is to manufacture and deploy 100 threshers by the end of the 2020 harvest season.
As FirstWave begins to piece together the challenges of scale, to get this product – multi-crop threshers – that they know people need to advance productivity, and make it simple and affordable, they will procure grain and other commodity feed from smallholders to meet the significant demand for soybean that makes up nearly 50 percent of fish feed for Yalelo Zambia. Their target by July 2020 is to source and secure 10,000 tons of soya from over 800 smallholder farmers in concentrated areas through an efficient operation.
This efficiency begins with threshers, continues through to the utilization of the latest technology to aggregate supply, secure farmer payments before and during harvest, and moves towards greater digitization of the agricultural ecosystem so as to provide visibility from both a business planning and risk management perspective.