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Top innovations for small farms at Nairobi trade fair

Sales and Technology associate Naomi Mutysia introduce new in Market Dehytray at the 2022 Nairobi International trade fair at the Show ground Arena. The solar portable dries food for preservation and value addition. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

The Nairobi International Trade Fair opened on Monday 26 for the first time after a two-year hiatus occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic.

About 350 international and local exhibitors are showcasing their latest products, services and innovations in agriculture, trade and allied sectors, offering opportunities for sales and learning and information exchange.

The technologies in exhibition are in line with the theme of ‘Promoting Innovation and Technology in Agriculture and Trade.’ The fair is also showcasing a host of agricultural demonstration plots, farm machinery and livestock displays.

Speaking at the venue at Jamuhuri Park Showground on Wednesday, Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja said the trade and agricultural show plays a critical role in the economic growth connecting and promoting two-way trade between Kenyans and other like-minded trading partners across the globe.

The event has attracted exhibitors from China, Tanzania, Botswana, India, Iran and Pakistan.

From the big and small, simple and sophisticated, the The Smart Harvest team sampled some of the modern agricultural technologies that were exhibited. 

Agsol Micromil

This is simply a mini posho mill which can be used at home to process grains like maize, sorghum and millet, or tubers like cassava and even animal feed so long as it is dry.

This micro-mill can be powered by solar or electricity and according to the developers, it is 70 per cent more profitable than a diesel mill and more efficient than other small electric mills. 

Ismael Bett,Sales Manager at AGSOL Micromill explaining how the powered micro mill functions during the annuals ASK show that was held at the Jamhuri showgrounds. [Silas Otieno, Standard]

It can produce 45 to 75 kilogrammes of fine flour per hour. The equipment has swappable screens and funnels or sieves to produce fine flour or coarse grits for animal feed.

Agsol sales manager Ismael Bett said it is powered by a brushless DC motor rated at 800 watts with one horsepower. The normal iron box uses 1,200 to 1,500 watts, so this uses way less therefore the solar panels used can be smaller.

“There are a lot of people who have bought this for their mothers back at home. When you get it for her, she will not call you for instructions, she will do everything on her own,” said Bett.

The electric powered micro mill costs Sh79,000. It is supplied with single phase 220 to 240V AC to 48 VDC power converter and all cables and connectors.

The solar powered micro mill costs Sh145,000, supplied with 600W of solar PV, 48V MPPT charge controller, 600Wh li-ion battery (LFP), and all cables and connectors.

The walking tractor

This equipment, also known as the power tiller, targets smallholder farmers. It is a small machine that can plough at least three acres a day.

“Farms are becoming smaller and in these small farms, there is intercropping hence the need for a small machine that can manoeuvre the spaces,” said Vincent Odhiambo from Nyabon Enterprise Limited.

He said they are working to entice the youth to embrace farming.

“For long, farming had been left to the old and retirees hence the need to introduce mechanisation which makes farming attractive to young people

“Our youth have been struggling with unemployment situation yet the agriculture sector provides great opportunities for job creation through service provision,” said Odhiambo, adding that the introduction of the machine encourages young people to set up enterprises which provide mechanisation services to farmers.

The company provides the machine on a lease-to-own agreement or a rental basis. This, he said will make mechanisation services available to farmers.

The walking tractor costs Sh450,000. In the lease-to-own basis, one pays 30 per cent of the price for one year with no interest. However, if you extend beyond one year, you pay an interest of 13 per cent.

He said the machine uses diesel, has a 13-horse power engine and is operated by one person.

“You need three litres of fuel to plough one acre. You can finish ploughing an acre within two hours depending on the condition of the farm,” said Odhiambo.

Mini Sugarcane juicer machine

If you are into juice making, then the sugarcane juice machine is a highly beneficial asset to your business or domestic set up. The machine extracts nutritious and refreshing sugar cane juice by pressing the cane through stainless steel rollers.

It is less bulky and either electric or dual (electric and manual).

The primary parts and exterior of the dual or purely electric sugarcane juicer are fabricated from stainless steel (corrosion protective) that affords excellent hygiene.

Also, the machine features a simple framework that is convenient and easy to operate.

The compact structure of the sugarcane juicer machine for home or a commercial set up affords users easy mobility.

“This means that you can run your business from a mobile truck, a cart, stationed kiosk or even a wheelbarrow,” said Eric Njuguna, who owns one.

Price ranges from Sh40,000 to Sh68,000.

Silage chopping and packing machine 

Peter Mbai is loading a mixture of Napier and maize stalks in a new innovated machine that in turns transforms the mixture into Hay. [Silas Otieno, Standard]

This is a unique machine for farmers such that fodder of any kind can be chopped and packed at the same time, saving time, space and energy for farmers.

This equipment can be sourced from Panabiz Marketing Africa at a cost of Sh1.8 million.

Not everyone can be willing to venture into dairy farming directly and therefore with this machine, someone can decide to focus on silage making as a business.

“Young people can come together and acquire this equipment. For example, through funding from banks or microfinance institutions, and just focus on sale of silage to other farmers,” said Stephen Ndung’u, sales agent at Panabiz Marketing Africa.

Maize Varieties for different climatic conditions

For farmers who do maize or want to try it, it would be nice to know there are varieties suitable for every region’s climatic conditions.

The Kenya Seed Company has developed such seeds to enable them endure climatic shocks, pests and diseases.

High altitude varieties

H6213 and H6212 which are suitable for high altitude areas of 1700-2100 metres above sea level and annual rainfall of 1000-1500mm.

These varieties take 160-190 days to mature. They are sweet in taste, produce double cob and are resistant to leaf blight, rust and Grey leaf spot.

Medium altitude varieties

H624, H624, H516, H516 and H513 which can produce an average of 32,28,26,24 and 23 bags per acre respectively. Most of these maize varieties take between 100-190 days to mature.

These varieties are recommended for medium to high altitudes (1500-2100m) where day temperatures seldom exceed 28 degrees centigrade.

Low altitude varieties

Pwani hybrids which includes PH4 and PH1 are fairly short hence resistant to lodging and more tolerant to moisture stress. They do well in areas with lower altitudes of 0-250m and low rainfall of 400mm and take 90 to 120 days to mature.

Dry land varieties

Kenya Seed Company has DH01, DH02, DH03 and DH04. These varieties have less maturing period of between 90-120 days and can withstand low rainfall of 200-500mm.

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