As a result of a Strategic Partnership Grant from USAID’s Trade Hub made in 2013 to Central African Seed Services (CASS), the Jungle Beat peanut processing factory in Zambia has become well-established as a reliable source of quality peanuts for RUTF (Ready to Use Therapeutic Food) throughout Africa.
RUTF is a non-perishable, portable product designed to combat malnutrition, especially in children and pregnant women. The first export order of 24 tons of blanched, vacuum-packed, roasted product was delivered to Nutriset in Antananarivo, Madagascar in November 2013, and CASS/Jungle Beat has continued to supply Nutriset franchises throughout Africa since then.
The peanuts processed in the Zambia factory are purchased from a network of thousands of small farmers throughout the country.
A Success Story
In october 2014, the Trade Hub learned that Central African Seed Services (CASS) has also negotiated with another large RUTF supplier to provide roasted, blanched peanuts in orders starting with 50 metric tons per month and increasing to 150 metric tons per month within the next six months. Peter Nieuwoudt, Director at Jungle Beat, sees exports from the factory reaching 50,000-100,000 tons annually within three years.
In Zambia, ideal climate conditions create the opportunity to increase both yield and the production area for peanuts considerably. With the efficient processing line made possible by the USAID Trade Hub grant, both small farmers and vulnerable populations can benefit.
On December 3, 2013, Jungle Beat, Central African Seed Services (CASS), the USAID Southern Africa Trade Hub and USAID/Zambia officiated at the official launch of a new groundnut processing line installed at the Jungle Beat factory in Lusaka, Zambia. The line is part of a partnership between Jungle Beat and CASS supported by a USAID Strategic Partnership grant, encouraging South African investment and technology transfer into the region.
The new processing line cleans, sorts and grades groundnuts for the purpose of achieving a uniform, high quality product with aflatoxin levels compliant with export requirements. With a full complement of trained pickers on the conveyor belts, the specialists can process up to four metric tons of nuts per hour on jungle beats' new processing line.
Groundnuts arrive from smallholder farmers in bags along with dirt, stones and sticks, and must be cleaned with forced air and gravity separation.
The cleaned nuts then move to a grading module that sorts the nuts according to size using oscillating sieves. This process separates the nuts into the uniform commercial sizes required by international buyers. The mechanical grading also removes the shriveled, immature and broken nuts; these damaged kernels harbor the majority of aflatoxin in any lot, and removing them efficiently is vital to achieving a cost-competitive, safe export product.
From here the sized nuts spill onto conveyor belts for a final inspection and picking. The workers remove any discolored or insect-damaged nuts and discard them in a slot next to their station. In smallholder farm production of groundnuts, it is also common for different varieties to be mixed together; the pickers must also separate these out to ensure that the final product is truly uniform and meets with buyer requirements. The nuts on the conveyor shown here are part of the first export order for the factory.
They are destined to be used in Burkina Faso for the manufacture of "PlumpyNut," which is a ready-to-use therapeutic food used to fight malnourishment, especially in child populations. With efficient processing like this, African smallholder-produced groundnuts can supply the humanitarian feeding industry and Africa can receive a double benefit from the aid.
The technology supplied through this grant is only one part of what is needed to create a sustainable business model, with financing a key component as well.
Jungle Beat secured US$1.8 million in commercial financing with the help of a USAID Development Credit Authority (DCA) partial guarantee that encourages Zambian banks to loan to promising SMEs. Jungle Beat has used this finance to increase procurement from smallholders in order to meet export demand.