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close this bookSmall Scale Processing of Oilfruits and Oilseeds (GTZ, 1989, 100 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentPreface
close this folder0. Introduction
View the document0.1 Economic aspects
close this folder0.2 Technical aspects
View the document(introduction...)
View the document0.2.1 Processes for oil fruits
View the document0.2.2 Processes for oil seeds
View the document0.3 Development potentials
close this folder1. Oil Plants and their Potential Use
View the document1.1 Characteristics of vegetable fats and oils
close this folder1.2 The major oil plants
View the document1.2.1 Oil palm
View the document1.2.2 Coconut palm
View the document1.2.3 Soyabean
View the document1.2.4 Groundnut
View the document1.2.5 Sunflower
View the document1.2.6 Sesame
View the document1.2.7 Rape and mustardseed
View the document1.2.8 Other oil-yielding plants
View the document1.3 By-products
View the document1.4 Further processing
close this folder2. Target Groups and Technologies
close this folder2.1 Family level
View the document(introduction...)
View the document2.1.1 Oil palm fruit
View the document2.1.2 Oil seeds
close this folder2.2 Village level
View the document(introduction...)
View the document2.2.1 Oil palm fruit
View the document2.2.2 Oil seeds
View the document2.3 District level
close this folder3. Case Studies
View the document3.1 Shea nut processing by women in Mali
View the document3.2 Hand-operated sunflowerseed processing in Zambia
View the document3.3 Oil palm fruit processing as a women's activity in Togo
close this folder4. Financial Analysis of the Case Studies
View the document(introduction...)
View the document4.1 Shea nut processing in Mali
View the document4.2 Sunflower seed processing in Zambia
View the document4.3 Oil palm fruit processing in Togo
close this folder5. Selected Equipment
close this folder5.1 Hand-operated equipment
View the document5.1.1 Hand-operated processing of palm fruit
View the document5.1.2 Hand-operated processing of oil seeds
close this folder5.2 Motorized equipment
View the document5.2.1 Motorized processing of oil palm fruit
View the document5.2.2 Motorized processing of oil seeds
View the document6. Ongoing Research and Development Work
View the documentAnnex

3.3 Oil palm fruit processing as a women's activity in Togo


Early in 1986, the Togolese organization CONGAT requested KIT to introduce its improved system for oil palm fruit processing in Togo. The project was financed by the Dutch NGO: ICCO. In the framework of this programme, a unit for processing Tenera oil palm fruit was established at Agou Yiboe. The objective of the programme was to demonstrate the feasibility of this fully hand-operated system to improve the living conditions of women in the south of Togo.

Organization and management

The CFAE (Centre de Formation Agricole et Economique) at Agou-Yiboe, Togo, guides a group consisting of about 18 young women. In addition to the staff of the CFAE, the group is guided by a Canadian lady volunteer. A unit for processing tenera oil palm fruit has been established at the CFAE to provide the women with productive employment. Bunches of tenera oil palm fruit are made available as the rawmaterial to be processed by the CFAE from their own plantation. The price quoted to the group is the same as the CFAE gets from a nearby palm oil mill.

The group is headed by a- chairwoman, who is assisted by a core group of women. Originally, the group met for training sessions on the subject of hygiene, child care and needlework. Later on they started with agricultural work on their own account, raising crops such as maize. As the income earned by the women from agriculture was disappointing, the processing unit has been set up.

CONGAT has made the equipment available and the CFAE the working capital; equipment and working capital have to be reimbursed by the group. The staff of the CFAE assists in the management of the funds.

Process and equipment

The unit has been set up to process 500 kg of tenera oil palm fruit bunches per day, twice a week during 6 months of the year. The unit consists of an open shed and is equipped with the following equipment:

- a large cooking kettle for the steaming of bunches
- a threshing grid
- a concrete pounding mortar - 4 reheating kettles
- a hand-operated spindle press UNATA 420 1
- a clarification kettle
- cooking pots for oil drying.

The processing of oil palm fruit is carried out in the following way: about 500 kg of bunches are bought from the CFAE on the day before the actual processing is to be carried out. They are loaded into the steaming kettle and steamed for about four hours in the afternoon, under the supervision of two women.

The next day starts at 7 a.m., with threshing and pounding. The fruit is still warm, but not too hot to touch. As soon as a reheating drum has been filled, the fruit is reheated. This step can be the most crucial, since, if not carried out correctly, the oil recovery will be disappointingly low. Since the mass of pounded tenera fruit is quite solid and difficult to penetrate by steam, at least three hours are required for proper reheating. After finishing threshing and pounding, carried out by 8 women in about three hours, there is a pause for about one and a half to two hours as one has to wait for the reheating to be completed. Around noon, or a little later, pressing starts after which fibres and nuts are separated and the fibre is collected in an empty reheating drum and reheated again. The press fluid is collected in the clarification drum. The leak-oil, obtained during reheating, is put in an oil drying pot. When the pressing is finished, the oil collected in the clarification drum is skimmed off. The mass to be clarified is boiled, in the traditional manner, to obtain as much oil as possible. Finally, all oil is dried by heating and poured into clean drums for storage.

Results and experience

It appeared that about 10 women were required to process 500 kg of bunches into about 90 kg (or 961) palm oil in an 8 hour working day. The oil is sold on the open market. In fact more women assisted in the processing of this quantity. However, some did really work hard, while others were only looking for light jobs. To organize the processing and establish a good co-operation within the group, leadership is required.

Technically, no special problems arose. However, the understanding of the process gave some difficulties. A refresher session appeared to be necessary.

The operation itself is an example of a unit acting as an enterprise. In principle, such a set-up requires quite good management abilities, such as procurement of rawmaterial, sale of products as well as the operation of the unit. To simplify financial management, a service mill might be much more interesting. As only the money for the maintenance and amortization of the equipment and the labour has to be catered for, such an arrangement might be more easily realized.

What remains crucial in the case of a service mill is the leadership to maintain a good working spirit and discipline. The group could contract the processing of a certain quantity of bunches of palmfruit, against a payment in cash or in kind.


The bunches were made available to the group at F CFA 20 per kg. The oil could be sold at F CFA 200 per 1. Since there are seasonal price fluctuations, it would seem to be more beneficial to store the oil for later sale. However, this would require much more working capital. With a reasonable profit to be made by selling the oil directly, such a venture is not advisable. It complicates financial management unnecessarily. Total required investment in equipment is about F CFA 800 000.

Alternative possibilities

As an alternative to the KIT process, using a hand press, at least partly motorized alternatives are a possibility. There is the TCC pounding machine to replace the handpounding and the CALTECH or COLIN type press (SPEICHIM M-10) to replace both pounding by hand and pressing. As described under 2.2.1, 8 women can process about 600 kg of palmfruit per day using the TCC system. This would mean that about 900 kg bunches would have to be cooked and threshed. For the threshing alone, 4 women extra would be required. The motorized version of the CALTECH can process 200 kg steamed fruit per hour. For this only four persons would be required. However threshing would require additional manpower.

For an economic discussion, the threshing problem is better omitted. Chapter 4 will therefore compare the economic performance of the KIT system (8 women and about 400 kg palmfruit per day, giving 112 kg or 1201 palmoil) with alternatives such as the TCC system (8 women and about 600 kg palmfruit per day, giving 148 kg or 159 I palmoil) and the CALTECH (4 persons and about 800 kg palmfruit per day, giving 211 kg or 227 1 palmoil).