‘My machines add value to peanuts, soya and cane’

Saturday August 10 2019

By Elizabeth Ojina

The electric machine that resembles a posho mill rotates steadily as it meticulously crushes every peanut Charles Odira feeds it.
After about 10 minutes, Odira stops the machine at his workshop, having crushed half a sack of the produce. On the other end of the machine, inside a chamber, lies a thick mash of crushed nuts used in making peanut butter. “This machine mills peanuts, but it can also crush soya beans and maize, among other grains. It uses electricity or diesel,” says Odira as he packs the crushed peanut into a plastic container.
The horticulturalist fabricates machines that are used to add value to sugarcane, peanuts, potatoes, fruits and maize, among others. Besides, he also grows pawpaws, oranges, mangoes, moringa, passion fruits and bananas.

He has specialised in making a variety of gadgets that add value to peanuts. They include peanut sheller, decorticator, roaster and miller. The machines are made on customer demand and in different sizes.
“They run on electricity, diesel, and charcoal or can be rotated manually. The peanut sheller costs between Shs540,000 and Shs1.5m and processes a 50 kilogramme sack in seven minutes,” says Odira. He sells the charcoal-powered peanut roaster at Shs1.5m and the electric one, which has a thermostat that regulates temperature, at Shs3.5m.
He also makes the peanut decorticator, which is used to remove the outer cover of the produce. “The peanut miller, which we make in several sizes, in a single operation extracts peanut oil to form a smooth paste. For taste, we just add salt and nothing more,” says the 40-year-old, who uses the machine to add value to peanut for sale.

Value addition
To make peanut butter, Odira starts by sorting out the nuts to get rid of any foreign materials, including the nuts that have mould, which causes aflatoxin.
The grains are, thereafter, thoroughly roasted to get rid of excess moisture to increase the shelf-life.
The roasted nuts are then allowed to cool for 10 minutes and then the outer cover is removed through a process called blanching.
Thereafter, the nuts are split and crushed in the miller, and later packaged in 250g, 400g and 800g.
Away from the peanuts, Odira also makes potato chipping machine, which splits both Irish and sweet potatoes into tiny pieces. The potatoes are then dried before they are processed into flour. He further makes sugarcane presser, which squeezes and extracts juice from the rind to the flesh, producing a sweet drink.
“During the recent agricultural show, I sold a good number of my machines and got orders,” says Odira, who sells a 200ml glass of cane juice at Shs2,500.

Sugarcane remains to Odira is not waste. Using a machine he fabricates called feed chopper, he makes animal feeds from the waste.
“I feed dry waste into the chopper which mills it into flour. You can give it directly to dairy animals. I sell one kilogramme at Shs1000,” says the businessman.

A hand operated cane miller costs Shs1m, the diesel one Shs3m while the electric- powered Shs8m.
It takes him between two and 10 days to make a machine, with the bigger ones consuming a lot of his time.