Most of the developed world has had its beginnings with agricultural related activities.  With all of the advances in agriculture and the current level of sophistication in the developed world it does not fit the small scale, village-level approach that is necessary as a starting place to develop a sustainable economic model in the developing world.  This concept paper will attempt to explain how an agricultural value-added development could be organized in a developing country.


In order to be successful, several areas need to be developed simultaneously which provide livelihoods, employment and begins to build an infrastructure for future growth.  Although initially project need to be small, it needs to be efficient and have growth potential.  Following are some of the components:


The Village – Groups of like-minded people who are willing to work together, implement some change, but want to continue in the lifestyle to which they are accustomed.  They want to produce crops for which there is a ready market.  Better, they want to produce crops and convert those crops into consumer products that have a ready market within their village as well as outside.


The Food – Food is an important factor for growth and development.  People need to consume protein-rich diet to develop cognitive ability and have healthy physical growth. Unfortunately, commonly grown farm crops are Carbohydrate-rich (such as wheat and rice).  This needs to be supplemented with protein-rich crops—for example, oilseed crops like soybeans, rape seed or other legumes.


Farming – In order to have a sustainable human growth, crops with complementary nutritional profiles (carbohydrate and protein) will be necessary for supporting not only human nutrition but to introduce other types of proteinaceous foodstuffs such as poultry. 


Processing – All agricultural crops need some type of post-harvest processing.  These may include cleaning, sorting, grinding, blending, and proper storage.  Good post harvest practices can prolong the shelf life of crops and ensure higher yield of better quality processed foods.  In the case of protein-rich oilseeds, some type of heating is  needed to reduce harmful ingredients prior to further processing.  Oilseeds are typically processed to produce cooking oil and meal which can be processed into human food or animal/bird/fish feed.   


Farm-Inputs Supply – To sustain a vibrant and successful crop production system, it is necessary to have certain inputs such as seeds, fertilizer, equipment and a way of supplying those items needed.  Access to distribution and credit as well as a legal framework is necessary to enable farmers to grow the crops that need to be grown.


Marketing & Distribution – Likewise, it is necessary to have merchandizing or distribution of the crops or products produced from those crops.  The interesting part of the focus on protein-rich crops is that there is already a demand for cooking oil and meal in all countries.  These products will find ready market at the local level (i.e., within the village).  Excess inventory can be sold to neighboring villages or exported.    


Training and Knowledge – To lift the level of sophistication, it is necessary to have some method of transmitting information or training.  This is essential to make continuous improvements.  Normally schools of higher learning such as universities can establish some level of expertise but the dissemination of this information needs to get to the farm or village level by demonstration to bring about change in a group.  Bringing together each phase of the project to the farm level is the most difficult part.  For a business to take root and sustain, there needs to be periodic follow-up and knowledge transfer.


Utilization – The total objective of an agricultural value chain is to make some type of economic improvement or make some beneficial change such as health, well-being or quality of life.  This can be everything from local consumption to exports to other areas within the country or to neighboring countries.   Apart from those humanitarian goals, we know that a business or enterprise can only survive if it is economically viable.  The economics depends upon the cost of inputs and the price realization of outputs. 


What’s missing?  The missing link is a way of processing particularly the oilseeds which contain both oil and protein and are essential for a balanced nutritional diet in both human nutrition and animal and poultry nutrition. 


Why process?  By processing, we are referring to a process that makes the crop viable for its intended use.  Soybeans, for example, have growth inhibitors that must be eliminated or the protein is not available for its value as a source of essential amino acids for growth and utilization.


How to Process Soybeans.  The growth inhibitor (trypsin inhibitor) in soybeans is heat labile.  In other words, it can be destroyed by heat.  Two distinct methods are available to destroy the inhibitors and separate the oil from the meal.  Chemical extraction of oil is used predominantly throughout the developed world as well as many developing countries, because it is more efficient way to extract most all of the oil present in the seed.   It involves use of a solvent (called hexane) to dissolve the oil from the seed and separate it from the seed.  The solvent is then separated from the oil and the meal.  Since the process is done at high temperature, the inhibitors are destroyed. Chemical extraction does not fit many younger developing countries because of its scale, capital cost and sophistication.  Physical/Mechanical extraction of oil involves heating the seed and applying mechanical pressure to press the oil out of the seeds.  Such process is predominantly used by small-scale processors in developing as well developed countries.  To jump start this business in a younger developing country, one needs to start even smaller--what we call Mini-Scale Crushing. 


Mini-Scale Processing – A Mini-scale processing method has recently been developed (with funding from NASA) and is available for commercialization on earth.  Known simply as a Mini Extruder, this unit or process fits ideally into a village or community processing situation.


Adding Value with a Mini Extruder to Process Soybeans – A Mini-Crush plant may be  placed at a village level or within a farm store merchandizing center thus serving the village as a combination supply and processing center.  The various combinations and configurations are presented below:


Option A: Partially-Defatted Meal & Oil - Since oil is more valuable, it makes sense to extract at least some oil from the seed.  This option entails taking whole soybeans and cooking them to produce partially-defatted meal suitable for human, animal or poultry consumption.  The by-product is oil.  Oil can be sold to refining plants.  A small 10’ x 20’ area within a building would be sufficient space.  This can be achieved with the following investment:


Option B: Partially-Defatted Meal & Degummed-Oil - In the previous option, the oil is unusable at the village level because of the presence of gums.  Gums foam during cooking and render fire hazard in deep frying.  It is hazardous for the cook to use crude oil.  This option entails taking whole soybeans and cooking them to produce partially-defatted meal suitable for human, animal or poultry consumption.  The by-product is oil which is degummed so it can be easily consumed by the community.  A small 10’ x 30’ area within a building would be sufficient space.  This can be achieved with the following investment:


Option C: Reduced-Fat Meal & Degummed-Oil - This option entails taking whole soybeans and cooking them to produce reduced-fat meal suitable for human, animal or poultry consumption by extruding and expelling.  The by-product is oil which is degummed so it can be easily consumed by the community.  A small 10’ x 30’ area within a building would be sufficient space. 


Basic Capacity Per Extruder:

            Cleaned, raw, whole soybeans                            110 lb/hr (50 kg/hr)

            Resulting in processed soy flour                           88 lb/hr (40 kg/hr)

            Degummed soybean oil                                            9 lb/hr (  4 kg/hr)

            Cleaning & Moisture loss                                        13 lb/hr (  6 kg/hr)


Impact Per Extruder: (Operating 333 days per year & 22 hours/day)

            Approximate Land Required per  Extruder1:       250 acres (100 ha)

            Number of Meals Servings per Extruder2:          35,000 meals per year

            Suggested Selling Price of Meal:                         2-5 cents per meal serving

1 Assuming Soybean production at ~50 bu/acre (~3,400 kg/ha)       

2 Assuming serving size of 25 grams or ~1 oz containing approximately 10 grams of protein and 2.5 grams of fat.

Not mentioned above is the potential for processing other oilseeds or for co-extrusion of wheat, corn, rice and soybeans into a simple but high protein snack food or the potential for processing other oilseeds locally grown.


In conclusion, establishing a processing center at the village level is a critical component of a value added agricultural development.  Without processing, the added value is shifted to other areas and the potential is lost.  In addition a processing center started in the simplest form begins the process of a sustainable economic model that can be duplicated, grown and developed over time.  Ultimately as the infrastructure grows, units can be enlarged or combined into central processing plants.  The products will find their way into traditional foods as a means of enhancing the nutritional value.  The degummed oil can be used for all types of cooking including deep frying.

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