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 the majority of the processing is done by women who get paid very little. Additionally, the current process for roasting shea kernels needs improvement to address significant health and environmental shortcomings, including low fuel efficiency and high particulate emissions. Problems with inconsistent roasting quality were also observed.

This project began on May 1st, 2018 and has consisted of multiple design and testing iterations in both lab and field to produce a quality product which meets the women’s needs. Recently, the team has been working on finalizing the improved roaster, research into alternative fuels, and an ergonomic drive mechanism. 

When compared to the existing baseline roasters in Ghana, our field and lab data shows the current E-FP0 Roaster prototype has more than twice the efficiency while maintaining similar firepower, decreases PM2.5 emissions from the most severe to the best AQI (with dry fuel), and outputs 50% more roasted shea nuts per hour. 

The next steps for the Shea Roaster Project include finalizing a design to improve the efficiency even more, working with manufacturers in Ghana to improve the design and manufacturability, and planning for the pilot phase of the project in 2022! To stay up to date with the project sign up for our mailing list or follow along on our team blog!

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


Project Goals

  • Improved Roaster

    Designed to be easier to manufacture in Ghana.

    Reduce wood fuel consumption by 50%. 

    Reduce particulate and carbon monoxide emissions by 90%.

    Last 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

Winrock International

Henry E. Niles Foundation

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