Scaling Multi-Crop Thresher Fabrication Training

Multi-Crop Thresher Fabrication Training


The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Soybean Value Chain Research (SIL) is dedicated to soybean research for economic development and the reduction of poverty and hunger by nurturing improved soybean value chains in Africa. Since 2016, SIL has been working to improve access to thresher services for smallholder farmers by implementing a training program for local fabrication of a multi-crop thresher designed for service providers or income-generating cooperatives.

ADMI and SIL have cooperated on a number of projects designed to improve access to postharvest loss-reducing technology and information for smallholder soybean farmers, including Enabling Female Access to Post-Harvest Mechanization and Measuring the Economics and Performance of a Locally Produced Multi-Crop Thresher.

Project Information

Soybean threshing remains one of the larger bottlenecks for improving productivity among soybean producers. The lack of access to mechanical threshing reduces planted hectares because of the extensive labor demands of threshing at harvest. It also reduces seed quality and germination levels among seed producers. In addition, farmers receive lower sale prices when poor threshing results in poor grain quality.

To address the thresher bottleneck, SIL has worked with manufacturers in multiple African countries since 2016 to develop low cost, locally produced, medium-scale multi-crop threshers that can shell maize and thresh soybean, rice, beans, sorghum, and other crops. The threshers have been under continuous improvement through testing, redesign, and direct engagement between engineers, fabricators, and users. In 2018, after two years of research and development, the thresher went fully commercial with sales in northern Ghana.

SIL received a grant from ADM Cares to support multi-crop thresher trainings in four African countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe.

Project Outcomes

Ethiopia: The Soybean Innovation Lab mechanization team led by Dr. Kerry Clark trained 26 local equipment manufacturers and educators in thresher fabrication at the Wolkite Polytechnic School in Wolkite, Ethiopia, from November 18-25, 2019. The training was organized by the Ethiopian Emerging Technology Center (EETC), a division of the Ethiopian Biotechnology Institute (EBTI). The training program included a seminar involving all participants and interested parties including funders, local NGOs, USAID, media, Government of Ethiopia officials, agro-businesses, and farmer groups. The seminar provided a platform to inform the public of the capacity of Ethiopian businesses to provide thresher fabrication services.

Zimbabwe: SIL conducted a similar thresher fabrication training in Harare, Zimbabwe in March 15-23, 2020. This workshop included train-the-trainer elements and was conducted in coordination with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), which was invited to suggest commercial fabricators for the workshop. ADM Cares financed the SIL trainers at this event and the materials used for one of the three threshers constructed. CIMMYT received the thresher produced with ADM Cares funds so the international organization could utilize and demonstrate it for farmers.

Trainings in Nigeria and Kenya were delayed due to COVID-19.

Kenya: A thresher fabrication training was held November 26- December 4, 2020, at the Agriculture Technology Development Center at Bungoma, Kenya. Alphaxrd Gitau, Partnership Facilitator at 2SCALE Kenya, worked with Tom Agwa, Manager of the Agriculture Technology Development Center at Bungoma, to host the thresher fabrication training. The Center retained one thresher for demonstrating to farmer’s organizations and is helping the fabricators connect to potential buyers. The other two threshers went to private businesses that provide services for smallholder farmers. 2SCALE intends to support further development of thresher manufacturing through their crowdfunding platform. A total of 15 fabricators from across Kenya were trained,  all from high-capacity workshops with good potential for further sector development. The group is active on Whatsapp and some members have moved into commercial thresher fabrication.

Nigeria: This training was put on hold multiple times due to Boko Haram activity and then the pandemic. The training was finally held January 9-19, 2023, in Jos, Nigeria, with collaboration from the Church of the Brethren/EYN Nigeria. Seven Nigerian fabricators were trained by SIL trainers Theo Botchway, Moro Donmuah and Hakim Karim, all equipment designers who live and work in Ghana.

In total

  • Ethiopia: 26 trained, 2 threshers built during training
  • Zimbabwe: 17 trained (including 1 woman), 3 threshers built during training
  • Kenya: 15 trained, 3 threshers built during training
  • Nigeria: 7 trained, 2 threshers built during training