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The coffee team from IDDS Tanzania was highlighted in Smithsonian Magazine this month with a story about how a self-taught Tanzanian inventor, nonprofit workers, and MIT students collaborated on a potentially life-changing tool for coffee growers.

Small-scale farmers find themselves at a disadvantage in the market due to competition from commercial growers. With current hand-crank systems the physical effort and time it takes to shell their raw coffee cherries means the average farmer will work harder for less return than their competition.

Building on the Appropriate Techonology ideal of “use what you have, make what you need” this machine is made with readily available parts that can be repaired or replaced affordably.

"There is an overwhelming availability of bike parts in the local area. Whatever they created could be built and fixed locally."

-- Lauren McKown Communications coordinator for the MIT International Development Innovation Network (IDIN).

The team initially focused on identifying the areas of production and processing that would be most effective, appropriate and sustainable. One concern was that the value of bicycles for transportation could undermine widespread adoption.

“With the hand-powered tool, farmers are able to pulp about 33 pounds of coffee cherries every ten minutes. In tests with the bike-powered machine, the same task took just two minutes. Beyond energy and time savings, the machine has an added benefit in that it gets other members of the community involved in coffee production. Now, women and children are able to shell the coffee cherries quickly and efficiently.”

Read the entire article at SmithsonianMag.com ]

Other bicycle and bicycle-part powered Appropriate Technologies: