TONNET Enterprise, a local agro-processing firm, has come up with an improved manually-operated groundnut sheller.
"The sheller removes pods and is cost-effective for farmers who produce groundnuts in large quantities.
"It is capable of shelling between 300 to 400 kilogrammes of groundnuts per hour depending on the number of operators," says Robert Mugenyi, a Tonnet technician. The company is located at Kalerwe, Gayaza Road.
The sheller is made from strong steel plates, but is light. Therefore, it is portable. It can easily be dismantled and reassembled with a spanner. Each unit goes for sh250,000.
Mugenyi explains that the sheller has aluminuim-cast spikes welded on its semi-circular hand-operated plate.
"It works hand in hand with the grain net below it to remove pods. As the spikes rotate, the net removes the pods, leaving the grains to fall through."
He advises that before operating it, a canvas sheet should be put below the sheller to prevent the grains from scattering on the ground.
According to Mugenyi, maintaining the sheller is easy. It mainly involves greasing the semi-circular plate-spike joints to stop them from wearing out and making noise because they are not made of bearings.
The grain net can take around two years without being replaced.
Mugenyi says farmers need to shell dried groundnuts with low moisture because that makes it easy to remove the pods. It also reduces chances of the grains breaking.
He says one of the things that had motivated the invention was the realisation that commercial farmers needed shellers for efficiency.
Shelling with wooden pestles is slow, damages grains, makes grains mix with broken pods, stones and dust and scatters them during grinding.
This method of shelling jeopardises access to external markets.
"We also make seed cleaners that are manually and electronically-powered. Farmers should buy them," says Mugenyi.