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Improving Mechanization for African Smallholder Farmers

This webinar is the third installment in the Soybean Innovation Lab's webinar series, "Improving Mechanization for African Smallholder Farmers." Presenters included SIL's Dr. Kerry Clark, Imara Tech CEO Elliot Avila, and David Wilson and John Lumkes with Purdue University. Broadcast July 6th, 2017. 



Imara Tech is a start-up in Tanzania that has designed a Multi-Crop Thresher (MCT) for smallholder farmers. CEO Elliot Avila discussed the MCT and the company's plans to market them to entrepreneurs to start new agribusinesses in their communities. To scale up the usage and sales of the MCT,  Imara Tech plans to establish workshops in major agricultural hubs in Tanzania. These hubs will manufacture the threshers, service existing machines, and serve as showrooms for potential buyers. Imara works with the assistance of partner organizations that have established networks with farmers in rural areas, either specializing in last-mile distribution or in selling inputs to famers. Imara also focuses on assistance with financing of their products.  

David Wilson, a recent graduate of Purdue University, discussed his work with Dr. John Lumkes (Purdue's Agricultural and Biological Engineering department) on a multi-crop thresher for use in Sub-Saharan Africa. Thresher fabrication training will also be offered. Wilson is also the CEO of Mobile Agricultural Powered Solutions (MAPS), a start-up that aims to empower farmers to be more efficient in producing and transporting their goods. MAPS has also developed a utility vehicle called the AgRover with a design focused on maximizing agricultural productivity while still being affordable in developing regions around the world. 

The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Soybean Value Chain Research (Soybean Innovation Lab, SIL) is the United States Agency for International Development’s only comprehensive program dedicated to soybean research for development. The Soybean Innovation Lab is building a foundation for soybean production in Africa by developing the knowledge, innovation, and technologies to enable successful soybean production. As part of the Feed the Future initiative, the Soybean Innovation Lab works to reduce global poverty and hunger by accelerating growth in the agriculture sector through improvements in agricultural productivity among smallholder farmers.


Webinar Slides

Introduction - Kerry Clark

Imara Tech - Elliot Avila

Purdue and MAPS - David Wilson and John Lumkes 
Webinar Speakers
Elliot Avila
CEO and Co-Founder
Imara Tech
Elliot Avila is the CEO and co-founder of Imara Tech, a company that has developed a Multi-Crop Thresher (MCT) in Tanzania. He is an Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduate who specializes in agribusiness, post-harvest processing and production, and human centered design.
David Wilson is a co-founder of Mobile Agricultural Powered Solutions (MAPS), a company which focuses on bringing locally manufactured, rugged equipment to market in Africa. He is a recent graduate from Purdue University. His master of science thesis was with Dr. John Lumkes on the design, production and testing of a multi-crop thresher for African smallholders. David has done projects and research in Cameroon, Guinea, and Ghana.
Kerry Clark
Soybean Innovation Lab Researcher
Soybean Innovation Lab
Kerry Clark leads the Soybean Innovation Lab's Technology and Mechanization Team and is working to increase agricultural mechanization through equipment design, training of local blacksmiths, and building communication networks of individuals and groups working in agricultural equipment development in Africa.