Compatible Technology International (CTI) is a nonprofit organization that designs and distributes food and water tools that help families in the developing world rise above hunger and poverty. The organization collaborates with small farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa to develop practical, affordable tools that help them harvest and process their crops. CTI works in Central America to promote clean water systems. And, they work with partners globally to distribute their tools, which provide the rural poor—women in particular—with opportunities to transform their lives.
Compatible Technology International (CTI) was founded in the Twin Cities of Minnesota in 1981, when a group of engineers and researchers from local food companies like General Mills
teamed up to use their ingenuity, hard work and compassion to help the global poor resolve their food and water problems.
The team formed CTI, a nonprofit organization led by professional staff and powered by skilled volunteers, all dedicated to engineering simple tools that help farmers in developing countries improve their food production, income and livelihoods.
Roots in India
Their first major program was in the Indian State of Uttar Pradesh, a major potato-growing region in northern India, where a small farming village was struggling on the edge of subsistence. After the harvest, farmers had roughly a month to sell their potatoes before they spoiled in the high heat. Desperate to sell quickly, farmers barely made enough income to survive on.
To help farmers make a decent living from their potatoes, CTI's founders—George Ewing, Bob Nave, and Emery Swanson—gathered a group of volunteers with expertise in engineering and food processing from the Twin Cities of Minnesota.
The volunteer team helped farmers build Cool Storage Sheds, an inventive technology that utilizes evaporating water to cool the shed's air temperature, enabling farmers to safely store potatoes for several additional months. They also designed manually-operated potato peelers and slicers which farmers used to make dried potato snack foods. The potato technologies were a big hit; farmers tripled their incomes by selling dried potato chips and local artisans earned money making and selling the potato processing technologies.
They have primarily focused their efforts on helping small farmers address their post-harvest challenges. While many of their colleagues and collaborators train farmers to use improved seeds and farming techniques, they concentrate on helping farmers during and after the harvest, when they must store and process their crops.
Expansion into Water Treatment
In recent years, we've expanded their efforts to include water treatment technology and have designed an inexpensive Water Chlorinator
that can be built and maintained by villagers. Today, more than 340,000 people in Nicaragua
have gained access to safe water through their Water Chlorinator.
CTI continues to develop and implement practical food and water technologies that enable the rural poor to become entrepreneurs. Their unique approach has resulted in sustainable development because rather than giving temporary handouts, they give families an opportunity to better feed and support themselves.