Women farmers in Uganda identified seed cleaning as their biggest challenge in soybean and dry bean production. Through a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, hand-operated seed cleaners were designed, fabricated, and tested by women farmers in the Kamuli district of Uganda. The machines were effective – cleaning soybeans and beans only took 10% of the time relative to that needed for hand winnowing and cleaning, and the number of people needed to clean the seeds were reduced by more than half.
Farmers used the time saved to farm more land, spend more time in their fields weeding and harvesting, make crafts for sale, gather more wild foods for family consumption, and do more work around their homes. Children were employed less in seed cleaning and were able to stay in school. Farmers reported fewer adverse health effects from inhaling dust and chaff while cleaning seed.
A unique aspect of this project was that the hand-operated seed cleaner was designed by mechanical engineering students at Iowa State University.
For more information, contact Dr. Tom Brumm
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