Improved Shea Roaster

Improved Shea Roaster


Shea nuts are grown and harvested across much of West Africa. It is a multi-billion-dollar industry, and most of the processing is done by women who get paid very little. The current process for roasting shea kernels needs improvement to address significant health and environmental shortcomings, including low fuel efficiency and high particulate emissions, and inconsistent roasting quality.

Since this project began in May 2018, we have:

- Designed close to one hundred iterations and built dozens of prototypes 
- Performed hundreds of laboratory and field tests
- Gathered user feedback from over 1200 women
- Transferred the technology and the manufacturing to Northern Ghana as part of our Pilot Phase
- Partnered with 4 different local organizations 

The next step for the Shea Roaster Project is the Pilot Phase which began in early 2022. Our goal is to pilot the manufacturing in West Africa and perform a longer-term study of our roaster's performance, durability, and adoption. By the end of our pilot phase, we (will) have:

  • - 10 locally produced roasters manufactured in Ghana  
  • - Transferred technology and manufacturing methods to 2 different fabricators 
  • - Installed in 5 cooperatives across the Northern Region 
  • - Trained over 500 women on the operation and maintenance of BDL’s improved roaster 
  • - Evaluated the performance, adoption, and durability both internally and via third party

To stay up to date with the project sign up for our mailing list or follow along on our team blog!

Support the Shea Roaster Project today!

"I am worried this job will give me lung infections due to the I smoke am exposed to."

—Fulera Imoro , Tuntieya Shea Butter Processing Centre - Jisonayili

Project Goals

  • Improved Roaster

    Save up to 90% wood use when switching to shea cake residue fuel

    Save up to 70% harmful emissions to users (PM2.5)

    Save an estimated 0.68 etCO2 per ton of butter produced

    Provide more than double the thermal efficiency of traditional rotating shea nut roasters 

    Last more than three years in heavy use

    Roast shea faster and produce higher quality butter

  • Alternative Fuels

    Designed to eliminate most, if not all, wood consumption as fuel source. 

    Inline with Ghana's goals to move towards 50% LPG usage by 2020 (goal created in 2013).

    Improve the use of shea cake or briquette, the biomass byproduct of the shea butter process, as the main source of fuel

  • Ergonomic Drive Mechanism

    Mechanism to make it safer and easier for women to rotate the roaster drum. 

    Rotation aided by treadle design. 

Partners & Sponsors

Global Shea Alliance

The Savannah Fruits Company

Baraka Shea Butter

Winrock International

Henry E. Niles Foundation

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