11: Sow What?
In central Africa, a seed known as amaranth is emerging as a strong crop
to sell on the market. It has very high nutritional value and grows quickly
and easily, requiring little to no water. In Kenya, Hillcrest CRC in affiliation
with CRWRC would like to provide a simple and efficient way for Kenyan
farmers to process this seed. There are two main reasons for this; the
first, that they can sell amaranth on the market for three times the amount
corn sells for. Having an effective way to harvest the amaranth would
allow this area, which is extremely poor, to experience economic growth.
Secondly, the nutritional seed can be used to boost the physical health
of the villagers, especially the children, in an area where malnutrition
is a significant issue.
machine processes amaranth seed for farmers in Kenya. The device separates
the seed and chaff from the stem of the plant (threshing), and then separates
the seed from the chaff (winnowing). The parts for the machine will be
built in the United States by the Hillcrest team and then shipped as a
kit to Kenya to be assembled and used. Our smaller, potentially more economical
device will allow more individuals to own the mills, increase labor efficiency,
and produce clean, quality amaranth seed.
The figure to the right is our current design for the device. The
process is as follows:
The harvested heads of amaranth are fed into the thresher (in green
and yellow), which uses a grooved, frictioned belt to thresh the
The threshed debris falls onto a screen, which stops any large material,
such as stems.
The seed, chaff, and dirt fall through the screen into the chute
Here, the seed, chaff and dirt mixture encounters an air flow generated
by the fan. This air flow is at a speed which allows the seed to
fall, but blows the chaff out the chute.
Finally, the seed, at the bottom of the chute, falls through another
small opening into a catch pan,
The bottom of this container is composed of a fine screen. When
shaken, this effectively removes any remaining dirt.
Katerberg, Kristin De Groot, Andy Vander Moren, and Dan Schrik