The shell of a cacao pod is hard and farm workers have to crack them by hand. Getting the cocoa beans out from inside the pod is one of the more tedious parts of harvesting cocoa. The beans need to be collected from the center of the pod and not cut in half to protect the beans and keep them whole. The farmers use small machetes, wooden sticks or rocks to crack the outside of the pod which is dangerous and strenuous on the hands. Although the process of cracking cacao pods can be a social event for farmers to chat and share stories, it is a very time consuming and detail oriented process.
A farmer from Fomena, Ghana named Ofori Tweneboah has manufactured a cacao pod cracking machine with hopes it will speed up the process and help take some stress off of himself and his farm help. The machine has metal blades to remove the tip of the pod and then split them open without harming the cocoa beans. As of right now it only holds one pod at a time but with technical support Ofori hopes to improve the design to take five or more pods at a time.
By finding ways to build productive tools and machines with affordable materials, farmers are helping themselves save time, money and fingers! It will be interesting to see what the future holds.