In the summer of 2000, an engineer from North Carolina visited a Peace Corps volunteer promoting the increase of protein in children's diets in Southern Mali. Both were unhappy to see the widespread introduction of cotton as a cash cop, and the rapid loss of soil fertility that was already evident. And, at that time there were conversations with the local Women's Co-operative, looking for a more profitable crop to take to market.
The solution to all three concerns was the increase in peanut cultivation. The problem was that, to save fuel, peanuts were traditionally sun-dried, shelled and then roasted. A roasted shell is quite fragile but a sun-dried shell is very tough and difficult to break open by hand. The engineer agreed that, after returning to the States, he would buy and ship an appropriate shelling machine to the village.
His search failed to produce a suitable machine, but with the help of Tim Williams at the University of Georgia (Griffin) and some good folks in Wilmington, North Carolina, the Malian Sheller was invented. Field tests near Sikasso, Mali in 2001 revealed some design and fabrication flaws, which have since been eliminated.