UN World Food Programme

Zambia: Shellers enable female farmers to reduce workload

New maize shellers in action in Zambia.

Copyright: WFP.

P4P has established a fund for the procurement of 38 shelling machines which have been distributed to 10 districts. These machines are given to individual farmers or local farmer co-operatives on a loan basis, which they are to repay over two years by charging other farmers a small usage fee for the machine.

Shelling maize in Zambia traditionally relies on the manual labour of women and children. Often, these children do not attend school during the shelling season as they are expected to work. The manual method of placing maize cobs on homemade slats and beating them with wooden sticks is not only tedious and physically demanding, but it also has a very low productivity rate of 10-25kg per hour. During this time, the children either miss school, or are too exhausted from the laborious work to study and concentrate. 

P4P has established a fund for the procurement of 38 shelling machines which have been distributed to 10 districts. These machines are given to individual farmers or local farmer co-operatives on a loan basis, which they are to repay over two years by charging other farmers a small usage fee for the machine - US$0.20 per 50 kg bag. The shellers can shell 1mt of maize per hour.

Mavis Bukoole, a smallholder farmer in Central Province and mother of four, is one of the farmers who has benefitted from the revolving fund. Apart from the significant amount of time the sheller saves, using the machine also cuts out the need to pay approximately USD$100 for additional workers to assist threshing the maize. In addition to saving time and costs, the shellers also improve the quality of the crops.

With the free time Mrs. Bukoole now has, she grows vegetables and sells them locally, which provides an extra income source for her family. She can also refurbish her home and thatch her roof. Neighbouring farmers are also to use the machine, and pay Mrs. Bukoole approximately USD$0.20 per 50kg to use it. This money will be used to repay the USD$1,000 loan for the machine.

After having the sheller for a week, Mrs. Bukoole had not only shelled her 150 bags of maize, but had offered the service to seven nearby smallholder farmers which had produced a total of 245 bags.