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Pressed for Success: Turning Oil into Opportunities in Manyamula

Winkley (pictured above) is the Coordinator of the Manyamula COMSIP Cooperative and has been hard at work to get a machine that filters sunflower oil up and running. The Cooperative originally purchased the machine in 2019, funded through a partnership between Spirit in Action and the Sumar-Lakhani Foundation. Since then, it has presented many obstacles for the Cooperative to overcome before it could be fully efficient and effective for the needs of this remote village.

The road into Manyamula is truly rural; you can see there are no main power lines.

The first challenge the Cooperative faced was realizing they needed an upgraded power line to operate the machine. Resolving this took many official letters from the SIA Office and many visits from the Cooperative staff to the national power company to get a brand new 3-phase electrical connection in the village. Once they finally connected the machines to power, the team soon discovered that the motor for the filter did not work. They could press the sunflower seeds but had to filter the oil by cranking a hand pump—new parts for the filter needed to be ordered and delivered from another part of the country. Once the part arrived, an electrician could help get the motor filter started, and now, it is finally functioning as originally intended.

This is the downtown Manyamula market where farmers come to sell their maize/corn crops.

Cooperative members, who are all small-landholder farmers, grow sunflowers and share in the profits of selling the sunflower oil that is made from pressing the seeds. The machine has been a significant value-add to the agricultural development of this area. The mass left behind after the oil is pressed from the seeds is also a valuable product. Sunflower "cake" is sold to livestock farmers to feed their cattle, pigs, and goats.

This lengthy path to an operational machine is a reminder of the hardships that SIA Grant partners must endure to make progress on what are typically seen as simple solutions or minor community initiatives.

Mercy Zimba collects the filtered oil from the machine. One quart goes for k2,700 (about $2.65)

Watch Winkley discuss the operation of the filtering machine below:

This is a huge development for the remote village of Manyamula, and it is a well-earned achievement of the Cooperative. SIA is continually in awe of the sustainable impacts organizations are creating through small grants and the Sharing the Gift concept!


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