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Customized Training for Smallholder Thresher Fabrication

The Soybean Innovation Lab is offering customized training workshops in multi-crop thresher fabrication. Our instructors can either train your selected local blacksmiths/welders, or we can train your own trainers.

Access a brochure about the training.

Build it Local

Many smallholder farmers in the tropics do not have access to durable and affordable harvest equipment such as crop threshers. Imported threshers are often too costly and too large and cumbersome for small farmers, have too high of energy needs or end up in the scrap pile if repair parts cannot be located or fabricated. Creating a local, skilled workforce for the fabrication of small to medium sized threshers can solve many of the problems of availability and affordability that prevent smallholder farmers from scaling up production. Locally-made also means locally-repaired. Local fabricators can listen to customer concerns and customize equipment to the needs of the individual or groups of end-users.

The Thresher

The SIL multi-crop thresher was designed by a Ghanaian fabricator and has been extensively field-tested by both SIL and farmers. It shells maize in the husk and threshes soybean and rice with little to no grain loss or breakage. Interchangeable concave sieves make it usable for multiple crops. It can thresh maize, soybean, rice, sorghum, millet, cowpea and common beans.

The machine threshes soybean 40 times faster than traditional stick beating and helps reduce drudgery and increase productivity for smallholder farmers.

The multi-crop thresher is sized and priced for purchase and use by mid-sized farmers or service providers for smallholder farmers. It can be powered with a diesel engine or through a tractor power take-off.

The thresher can shell 2000 kg of maize per hour so at full capacity can show a return on investment in one season with maize. 

SIL developed the thresher design and the training program because of the difficulty in finding good equipment in Africa and the lack of designs available for local fabricators. The SIL designs are open source and freely available, however training is needed to assure high quality fabrication. 

Collaboration and Scale-Up

SIL teams with in-country development organizations (hosts) to provide training and to develop a correlated program of technology adoption and scale-up. The in-country host must develop and implement a viable plan to support the trained manufacturers by connecting them with potential buyers such as service providers or farm cooperatives. This can be done through a variety of methods and programs including:

  • Enabling access to events where thresher demonstrations can be used to promote the equipment
  • Promote and demonstrate the thresher to farming cooperatives and potential service providers
  • Assist in making personal connections between potential buyers and the fabricators
  • Promote and support the agricultural service provision sector
  • Assist fabricators in maintaining manufacturing quality in the early years after fabrication training. This can be done by field testing with feedback to the manufacturer.
  • Connect end-users and fabricators to financing sources
  • Promote and support local fabrication of agricultural equipment with governments, donors and policy makers

Workshop Details

Workshops include designs and fabrication of a thresher that has a capacity great enough to be economically profitable for professional service providers. Workshops include training on business development, maintaining manufacturing quality and training and educating end-users of machines on operation and maintenance.

Workshops require 6 days of work from 8 am to 7 pm. This includes one day of classroom training and five days of practical fabrication training.

Host organizations will have to supply a facility with power, appropriate tools and welders. Training can also be contracted for Tamale, Ghana where SIL will provide access to a training facility.

Workshop Costs

The host organization provides all in-country costs. This includes materials for at least one thresher ($2000-$3500, depending on local material costs) and at a minimum, lunch and a morning coffee break for all trainees and trainers. The host will arrange and pay any necessary costs for a training facility. Many technical schools or government workshops provide the facility and required tools in exchange for their staff receiving training. The host will recruit all trainees and will be responsible for acquiring materials and supplies before the start of the training. Some host organizations may also choose to further support the travel or lodging of the trainees.

SIL provides the trainers on a sliding fee scale based on our analysis of the host organization’s demonstrated need, commitment to improving access to mechanization, and ability to find funding.

Contact us to learn more about setting up a training. 


Dr. Kerry Clark
Soybean Innovation Lab
209 Mumford Hall
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65211