Agriculture in Tanzania
Business & Impact
MCA Technologies is a startup that partners with international NGOs to improve crop productivity and soil fertility in Tanzania. Their main product, manure spreaders, allows customers to cultivate farmland in a more efficient and sustainable way. Their customers include individual farmers, farmer associations, machine retailers and agricultural government agencies.
After going through consulting and financial engagements to strengthen its business model, MCA Technologies wanted to improve the quality of its product as well. In particular, they were looking to build a manure spreader that is lighter, easier to assemble and cheaper to produce. Developing a more efficient clutch and rotary shaft system was posed as a major challenge.
Our Technical Advisory team went about this problem with two approaches: finding alternative materials for the parts, and testing different mechanisms and structures to meet the client’s needs. They also identified four specific parts of the manure spreader to focus on, which helped to clarify the project’s scope.
Deliverables from BfE Cambridge
- New Manure Spreader Design: Our BfE Technical Advisory team developed a new and improved design of MCA’s manure spreader. The shaft mounting structure and the bracket were modified to reduce volume and cost, along with adjusting the supporting frame. Additionally, we developed a stopping mechanism that prevents the cover plate from sliding in and out while in operation.
- Sustainable Material Selection: As part of the effort to reduce the model’s weight, our team researched various alternatives to steel for the spreader. This process started with a stress evaluation of the current model before analysing multiple materials, such as polymer, aluminum and wood. After identifying local sources, the team identified Sisal, a natural fibre, as a suitable sustainable alternative.
- New Owner Manual: Along with the new design and material recommendation, the BfE team created an owner’s manual for new users, which contained details and instructions about the new manure spreader. In addition, this booklet provided an explanation on the significance and environmental impact of manure spreading on crop yields.
How Frank (MCA Technologies Founder) benefitted from working with BfE
Most Tanzanian smallholder farmers struggle to afford technologies to heal their soil, which can result in low productivity and decreased income over time. Social entrepreneur Frank Mollel experienced this gap in the market firsthand and decided to take action by devising his own manure spreader.
BfE redesigned Frank’s model and suggested an alternative material that was lighter, easier to use, and cheaper to produce. Along with the new owner manual the team created, MCA Technologies will now be able to amplify their impact by selling more affordable technologies to Tanzanian farmers.
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