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Our History

- A Canadian by the name of Jock Brandis, living in North Carolina, is invited by a friend then serving in the Peace Corps in Mali, Africa, to repair a solar pump in the village where she is stationed. Brandis is a sound and light engineer for the movie industry and well known for his mastery of tools and materials.

While there, Brandis notices two things. The first is that villagers are beginning to plant cotton as a cash crop. Brandis knows that cotton is hard on the soil and without fertilizer or crop rotation, in time the soil eventually becomes depleted. Second, he notices that women spend hours shelling peanuts by hand in order to feed their families. Since peanuts improve soil by fixing nitrogen in it, Brandis asks the women why they are planting cotton rather than peanuts.

The women of the village tell Jock that the job of opening the peanuts takes too long and is too much work. Jock suggests that they use a machine to shell the nuts. However, no such machines are known to the women. Hoping to make a difference, Jock promises to return in a year and bring back a machine that will handle the job of shelling nuts for his new friends in that village.

Upon returning to the US Brandis contacted peanut authority Dr. Tim Williams of UGA who told Brandis of a Bulgarian Peanut Shelling design. Brandis adapted the design with help from a friend Wes Perry, Brandis went through several iterations of a redesign and one year later he completed the machine which is now called the Universal Nut Sheller.

- Jock returns to Mali with his newly designed peanut shelling machine, this time accompanied by a film crew from The Discovery Channel. Local villagers are amazed and excited.

September - Jock travels to University of Georgia at Griffin to demonstrate the "Malian Peanut Sheller" to Dr. Tim Williams.

- With the help of the Coastal Carolina Returned Peace Corps Volunteers organization, The Full Belly Project, Ltd. is incorporated with the state of North Carolina, and is registered as a 501(c)3 organization with the IRS.

2004: Various efforts to introduce the machine in other countries are attempted without success, primarily due to The Full Belly Project's lack of funding, lack of sophistication in choosing overseas partners and as yet a not fully refined design.

August - Brandis travels to Haiti to work with Peace Corps agricultural volunteers.

September - A Ugandan by the name of Tony Lumu with the Adonai Ministries is traveling in Eastern North Carolina and hears about The Full Belly Project. Tony visits FBP in Wilmington where he trains to build a sheller. Tony flies back to Uganda with a set of molds and enough metal pieces to build three machines.

- A board member and a documentary film maker travel to Uganda to document first successful introduction of machine by a Ugandan to villages in that country.
(Click here to view film)

June - FBP moves into their first workshop, a converted garage behind a supporter's house

November - In partnership with Adonai Ministries in Uganda and funded by Wilmington Rotary Clubs, Full Belly Project places nut shellers and grain grinders in 10 Ugandan villages

December - Jock Brandis is invited to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology by Macarthur Fellow and Popular Mechanics Breakthrough winner, Amy Smith. Jock is a guest lecturer for several days at MIT's "D-Lab", or Development Lab. The D-Lab is a course where students develop appropriate technology devices that are introduced between semesters in January to different parts of the world.

- Teams from MIT D-Lab travel to the Philippines, Ghana and Zambia with sets of molds and metal kits in order to introduce these machines to local populations. The Philippine introduction is extremely successful. Hundreds of machines are built in partnership with the Holcim Cement Company and CentroMigrante, a Filipino NGO that builds low-cost housing for migrants seeking work in the port cities of the Philippines.

A peanut butter cooperative in northern Guatemala in the Petan region begins using the UNS to shell nuts with great success.

March - Jock and board members travel to Atlanta to demonstrate the peanut sheller to President Jimmy Carter. President Carter is impressed!

May - A representative from CARE travels to Uganda to do a site visit to two villages where the Full Belly Project has Universal Nut Shellers. Late Lawson is a Senior Technical Advisor for the Economic Development Unit that overseas CARE's projects in Africa. Late is so impressed by what he sees that he sends an e-mail to all of his field representatives throughout Africa recommending the technology.

Brandis wins third place in the MIT Ideas Contest for design of pedal powered peanut nut shelling machine.

June - Brandis travels to the Philippines to continue development and field testing of the pedal powered version of the Universal Nut Sheller.

October - Materials for 150 machines are sent to Uganda in a project funded by Rotary International and the Rotary Clubs of Eastern North Carolina and Uganda. Jock and Board President (and Rotarian) Jay Tervo travel to Uganda to train Ugandan Rotarians to build UNS machines. Also trained are representatives from the Pentecostal Church of Eastern Uganda. This project includes training Rotarians on the use and maintenance of a revolutionary grain grinder manufactured by Compatible Technology International.

December - Brandis wins Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award

FBP hears news from the Island of Mindanao, Philippines, that the sheller does a great job shelling jatropha.

The Malian Peanut Sheller renamed "The Universal Nut Sheller"

2007: Full Belly Project has one or more machines in 17 countries!

January - FBP hires first paid staff

March - In partnership with Nourish International, a student group from UNC-Chapel Hill, The Full Belly Project wins the Carolina Challenge People's Choice Award and the Duke Start-up Challenge award.

Brandis travels to Guyana, South America, with representatives from the universities of Florida and Georgia and USAID to consult with them on the USAID/Peanut CRSP peanut project in the Rupununi region. The project subsequently orders 4 machines to assist them with shelling peanuts.

Brandis travels to Guatemala to introduce a Macadamia nut sheller and fabricate a pedal powered unit in partnership with Mayapedal. Brandis discovers that the machine shells green coffee.

May - Staff and board members travel to Guatemala with students and faculty from UNC-Wilmington to continue the introduction of the UNS and deliver an upgraded, stainless steel version of the macadamia nut sheller.

Executive Director Jeff Rose speaks at The United Nations for the Committee on Sustainable Development 15. Rose addressed the Small Island Developing States sub-committee meeting.

May /June - Staff members spend 6 weeks in Uganda establishing our first large scale production facility in Africa. Project is a partnership with Nourish International and includes 13 student volunteers. Brandis travels to southern Sudan to work with the Norwegian People's Aid organization and LuluWorks where he discovers the sheller does a great job shelling shea nuts. Rose travels to Kenya to deliver 4 machines to the UN's Millennium Village Project.

One machine is delivered to Royal Van Zandt, a Ugandan flower export company which burns Jatropha to run generators to light their greenhouses. When asked how the nutsheller works in shelling Jatropha, the project manager replies simply, "It's PERFECT!"

July - Brandis invited to help lead the first annual International Development Design Summit at MIT.

August - Brandis and Rose travel to Haiti to consult with MIT on a feasibility study to do a project in that country that would use several of our technologies in support of reforestation, economic development and the production of charcoal briquettes. Also explored is the possibility of a local orphanage using our machines as a means of generating income.

September - FBP moves to a new facility, combining shop and office space under the same roof

December - Brandis returns to Haiti to install an electric version of the UNS for Meds and Foods for Kids. The program director is hugely impressed with effectiveness and appropriateness of the technology to their needs.


- A prototype for a manually operated peanut thresher is developed.

February - Board member Jim Nesbit travels to Malawi, Africa, to visit Peace Corps Assistant Country Director Brian Connors who is successfully training his volunteers to introduce UNS machines in villages. One new volunteer takes a machine to a village where farmers shell 30 tons of peanuts in 2 months, earning enough money to drill a bore hole well in their village.

Brandis and his work with The Full Belly Project are honored as a CNN Hero on Larry King Live.

Feast Against Famine, the annual Fundraiser event was a great success

March- Worked with UNC-Chapel Hill students from the UNC APPLES program on an interactive map which is used for planning purposes by Full Belly.

April- Provided training to Mali-Biocarburant, in Bamako Mali. Mali-biocarburant uses the Universal Nut Sheller to cleanly remove the husks of Jatropha seeds before they press the seeds for their oil.

May- July - MIT intern Ming Leong began the process of improving the Universal Nut Sheller. Leong's challenge was to strengthen the sheller while reducing it's weight and size in order to make it more mobile. You can read more about this important research and development in our August 2008 newsletter.

August- Jock Brandis and Jeff Rose participate in MIT's second annual International Development Design Summit. The two lent their expertise as group advisors as participants developed new and exciting appropriate technolgies.

September- The Full Belly Project is named as one of the 2008 Tech Awards Laureates. Full Belly is up for the Accenture Economic Development Award.

December-Founder Jock Brandis wins the 2008 Purpose Prize for his work as the Director of Research and Development at The Full Belly Project