Woman Farmer Invents a Cassava Grinder



Olga Turner has farmed for many years in the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica. She grows over twenty herbs, fruits and vegetables on her two and half acre family plot. She works hard and makes good use of the resources she has on her farm. This has made her a successful farmer.

Olga grows and processes cassava on her farm. She does what she can to save time and energy. When Olga found that her arms and back hurt after hours of chopping and grating cassava, she felt there must be a way to save time and her aching back.

So Olga came up with the idea of creating a cassava grinder, and went to work designing it and building it. She found most of the materials she needed on and around her farm including a motor from an old scooter.

The finished machine grinds cassava in half the time it used to take when she had to grind it by hand. She won the Farmer of the Year Award in her country for her invention.

Olga’s cassava grinder is simple to use and easy to make. She starts with a wooden box, which sits on top of a wooden stand. The box contains a metal grinding wheel attached to a motor. Inside the wooden stand, a plastic container catches the ground cassava.

Here are more details if you want to try making the grinder yourself.

You will need a wooden box, a metal grinding wheel, a small motor, a spin wheel and a metal band to connect the motor and spin wheel.
You also need a stand and a container to catch the ground cassava. The stand can be made of wood, metal or plastic. Olga’s machine runs on electricity, so you will need to plug the cassava grinder into an electric outlet, or power it with a small generator.

The wooden box must be big enough to hold the grinding wheel and is open on top. There is a hole in the centre of each side of the box. The ends of the grinder fit through these holes. A small motor is attached to the back of the box on the outside. A metal band connects the motor to the grinding wheel. The band stretches over one end of the motor. On the same side of the box, the band stretches around a spin wheel on the end of the grinder. When the motor is plugged into an electric outlet, it turns the spin wheel. The spin wheel turns the grinder.

Two pieces of plywood are wedged on 45 degree angles over the grinding wheel. These boards guide the cassava into the grinder. When she is grinding cassava, Olga places another small board against one of the angled boards to prevent the cassava from flying up into her face. When the plastic bin below fills with cassava, Olga removes it and replaces it with a fresh one.

With her cassava grinder, Olga can grind a bin of cassava is much less time than it used to take grinding by hand. You, too, can find new ways to save time and energy on your farm. Be creative!


  • This script was written by Belinda Bruce, Assistant Editor, Developing Countries Farm Radio Network, Toronto, Canada. It is based on an interview with Olga Turner, Highgate, Jamaica.>/li>