Deborah Opandoh’s passion for food, mathematics, and physics led her to Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in 2007 to pursue a degree in Agricultural Engineering.
That talent dates back two years, when she won a WAEC-sponsored Mathematics competition open to all Junior High Schools in the Western Region.
Deborah Opandoh decided to pursue a master’s degree in Food and Post-Harvest Engineering at the same University after working as a teaching and research assistant after completing her bachelor’s degree.
She had the opportunity to work with the Affordable Design and Entrepreneurship (ADE) group near the end of the first year of the program, where they traveled to rural areas to see how women prepared food.
“We realized that the majority of women who processed gari grated it by hand, which was unsafe, inefficient, time-consuming, and inefficient.
“They also pressed with pebbles, which was highly detrimental to their health, especially because most of them had troubles with their waists, and some of them needed men to carry and turn over the sacs,” she explained.
Deborah began her Master’s work on the cassava grater’s grating surfaces.
Deborah co-founded QueenTech Initiative, where she serves as Executive Director, after working with ADE and KNUST’s Technology Consultancy Centre.
“It was a success, and it was used on the battlefield.” Since then, we’ve changed the designs numerous times based on client feedback, and we’re currently on our 18th grater design, with this being the fourth for the press,” she said.
Another feature has been added to the machine that allows the grater to process cassava for dishes like banku in only one stage rather than the typical two.
“The tiny cassava grater can grate approximately 200 kg of cassava every hour.” Stainless steel or food-grade plastic are used for the contact parts.
“They don’t have to worry about energy use because the grater is powered by a 0.75 horsepower electric motor.” She went on to say, “It’s incredibly efficient; 1400 rpm.”
In the United States, QueenTech has partnered with Olin and Babson Colleges.
“Olin helps with the engineering side, and Babson with the business side,” she explained.
If purchased in whole, the cassava grater costs 850 cedis; if paid in installments, it costs 900 cedis.
QueenTech has a microloan agreement with rural women in which they pay a portion of the credit upfront and then make monthly installments for six months.
Over 30 rural communities benefit from the tiny cassava grater.
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