|Small Scale Processing of Oilfruits and Oilseeds (GTZ, 1989, 100 p.)|
The concept of rural development aims to meet the basic needs of the majority of the population in Africa, Asia and Latin America. This direct approach to basic needs has taken a variety of forms, project types and degrees of integration of individual measures, ranging from infrastructure projects (e.g. transport, energy and water supply), institution building (agricultural and other extension services, assistance to self-help groups and cooperatives), supply with credits and inputs and the promotion of local, small-scale processing of agricultural products.
Agro-industrial development, defined as processing of agricultural products on a larger scale, is of necessity, often located in central places of the producing areas or the capital of the country. The basic concept is rather a macro-economic approach of substituting imports of consumer goods or earning foreign currency with exports. Agro-industrial projects, such as the establishment of central oil mills, have often been successful in keeping an additional value-adding processirig step in the hands of a developing country and have thereby led to a more advantageous participation in the structure of postcolonial trade.
The other side of the coin is, however, that quite a number of these projects have not proved to be viable due to insufficient or badly planned rawmaterial supply, management problems and/or highly fluctuating market prices. In macro-economic terms, the result of such projects has often been an increase in foreign debts rather than any profit for the country.
Without unfair generalization, one might say that very few agro-industrial plants have made a substantial direct contribution to the basic needs of rural people. As far as oil mills are concerned, producer prices are often kept artificially low in order to be competitive in international markets. Additional employment opportunities are relatively few, and the improved supply of vegetable oil is more often geared to the urban population. Producers of vegetable oil in rural areas, especially women, often find it more difficult to compete in local markets, since their traditional techniques are very labour-intensive and relatively inefficient. Provided that the social context is considered, as sketched below, the promotion of improved small-scale equipment for oil processing could therefore close a technological gap, increase the availability of oil for personal consumption and generate income in rural areas.
All societies in developing countries are characterized by a specific division of tasks between men and women. Not only in developing countries, but worldwide, the tasks of childrearing and housekeeping are attributed to the female members of the economic unit; i.e. the nuclear family, the extended family, the tribe. etc.
In most developing countries, especially in Africa, housekeeping comprises all family-related activities, often without the possibilities available in industrialized countries to make use of external services and institutions. In rural areas, housekeeping includes a broad spectrum of time consuming tasks, varying from the provision of water and fuel wood, the preparation of meals, washing, cleaning, most handicraft, the cultivation of vegetable gardens to the processing of basic food (such as the production of vegetable oil).
In addition to childrearing, which is a particular stress situation with every additional baby, the numerous tasks of women in rural Africa amount to average work loads of 16 hours a day. This is a considerably heavier burden than any man would normally carry, and is, in itself, a convincing argument for regarding rural women as a target group which deserves particular development efforts.
The disadvantageous division of responsibilities is, however, not limited to the work load as such: In most African countries, rural women have to take care for at least a part of the financial needs for housekeeping (for food, clothing, medicine, schoolbooks, etc.). For this purpose, cash crops have to be cultivated and marketed, handicraft articles produced and sold and other services provided. In the West African context, the production of vegetable oil plays an important role.
The necessity for independent financial resources for women also stems from the fact that men often consider any additional income should be for the head of the household as a contribution to his personal consumption (for radios, bicycles, alcohol, etc.). Furthermore, migration away from rural areas in Africa has already lead to 30% of female heads of households, who are more or less solely responsible for all needs of the family.
The improvement of traditional techniques and the transfer of appropriate technology (small scale) for the local production of vegetable oil can therefore be seen as a contribution to improve the social and economic living conditions of rural women. Depending on the social context, which varies widely, the introduction of new processes might, however, also face problems. Difficulties might arise from:
- the access to sources of finance, in particular credit, which
- for one reason or another
- is more freely given to men,
- the volume of the necessary investment, in particular for power assisted technology, which poses a considerable risk and is often intimidating to women,
- the financial needs for production costs, in particular fuel for motor-driven versions which may not always be readily available in rural areas,
- the dependence on repair and maintenance services by workshops in the village or even the next city,
- the need for a minimum degree of organization beyond the family level; i.e. in self-help groups, informal precooperatives or even cooperatives with statutes and formal membership,
- the danger of men taking over after the successful introduction of the new and attractive technology, either for reasons of prestige or as a source of income.
The above mentioned potential difficulties might not be valid in specific cultural settings; in others, even one of these points could well lead to a complete failure of a project. In particular the last two points emphasize the necessity of a detailed knowledge of the social background at the village and even family level before starting to promote new technologies for local oil processing.
In West Africa, project experience has shown rather stable structures of women self-help groups. The transfer of this experience to, for example, East African countries should, however, be handled with some caution. The traditionally less autonomous status of women in this region might make more formal structures of organization (cooperatives) necessary.
A simple transfer of appropriate technology, therefore, appears to be insufficient to reach rural women as target groups of development efforts. Rather, a social approach has to be chosen, which starts with a careful identification of existing forms of organization, includes a training component to strengthen these structures and thereby develops and secures independent sources, of income for rural women.
Although the purpose of the present publication basically is to provide technical information, the social approach - after the characterization of the major oilcrops and vegetable oils in Chapter 1 - is reflected in the main parts of the booklet. Chapter 2 first identifies socio-economic units (e.g. family, village, district), then describes the technology which could be considered for each of these units. Chapter 3 gives examples from project experience introducing improved technology at the village level. In Chapter 4, the economics for the case studies are analyzed and alternative technical solutions evaluated. [Finally, the concluding chapters provide technical details, addresses of institutions and companies, a look at current research, guidelines for the identification of an oil processing project and a short list of relevant literature.