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 project has developed three custom design tracks with unique designs and goals: the Premium roaster, the Economy roaster, the LPG (propane) roaster, and the experimental Ergonomic Drive Mechanism. 

Lab data shows the current FP02 Premium Roaster prototype has twice the efficiency as the baseline roaster while maintaining the same firepower. Testing continues on the premium roaster while we work towards our first economy roaster prototype. 

The next steps for the Shea Roaster Project include designing and manufacturing working prototypes of the economy roaster in order to conduct extensive lab testing. Versions of both the Premium, the Economy, and the LPG roasters are then destined for field testing in Ghana by Summer of 2021. 

Support the Shea Roaster Project today!

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


Project Goals

  • Premium Roaster

    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.

  • Economy Roaster

    Designed to be smaller, cheaper, and easier to manufacture.

    Improve efficiency and reduce fuel consumption.

    Manufacturable with available supplies in Ghana.

  • LPG (propane) Roaster

    Designed to eliminate wood consumption as fuel source. 

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

  • Ergonomic Drive Mechanism

    Experimental mechanism to make it easier for women to rotate the roaster drum. 

    Rotation aided by treadle design. 

Partners & Sponsors

Winrock International

Henry E. Niles Foundation

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