The desire of every farmer is to have a technology that is simple and makes running farm operations easier.
That thinking went into the invention of the tricycletechnology by Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) researchers. The idea was birthed in 2005 and it has been refined over time.
So what inspired the invention?
It all started when then Vice Chancellor, Prof Nick Wanjohi, challenged technologists in the university’s Engineering Workshops to come up with simple and affordable solutions for the benefit of Kenyans.
As part of the journey, bicycles were developed and later a 50cc engine run tricycle was invented.
Years ago, when the unit was presented at the Nyeri Agricultural Society of Kenya show and Nairobi International Trade Fair, it attracted attention of many show goers especially small-scale farmers.
To further refine the idea, we the researchers were challenged which necessitated a higher capacity tricycle to be developed, one with a 150 cc engine.
Later, another model was developed with an engine capacity of 200 cc, which can do haulage of up-to 750 kilos.
So how does it work?
This latest version of the tricycle can be used to transport agricultural inputs to the farm.
It can also transport various farm produce such as milk, crops to the market.
To add on, with an attachment of a pump, the engine can be used for irrigation. It can be used in urban and rural setups to ferry farm waste and can easily navigate the narrow paths in urban areas. Though simple, this technology is indeed revolutionary.
Is it a motorcycle?
Some people may confuse this technology with the motorcycle but there is a big difference.
In simple terms, a tricycle is simply a three-wheeler vehicle with one wheel at the front axle while the other two are attached to the rear axle. The vehicle is partly a motorcycle resemblance, whereas the rear section bears motor vehicle characteristics.
The major difference with a motorcycle is that a tricyclehas its drive motion initiated from the motorcycle engine via a simple gearbox and coupled to the final drive differential unit that is similar to those of vehicles with rear drive.
The connection of this drive is done through propeller shaft. The whole vehicle is mounted on a light but robust framework referred to as chassis.
So far, so good. Data from the shows, exhibitions and trade fairs indicate that the innovation has given the end users some satisfaction.
[The writer is a Senior Technologist, JKUAT Engineering Workshops]