SIMPLE VALUE ADDITION MACHINES THAT EVERY SMALL SCALE FARMERS SHOULD HAVE

Simon Gatagia feeds a handful of dry maize stalks in a large bowl on the rear end of a grinding machine.

He intends to use the ground maize stalks as the base material for a 70kg bag of dairy feeds he plans to make. He will also grind soya beans, dry steamed bones and dry omena separately and mix all these in the base material in the machine to make animal feeds.

At the market, on average, a 70kg bag of dairy feeds cost nothing less than Sh2,000. But these are unnecessary costs to a farmer who can make the feeds at the comfort of their homes, according to Engineer Gatagia, a technologist in the department of innovation and production at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).

All the farmer needs, Gatagia says, is a simple three-in-one machine that is suited to perform a variety of farm activities including chaff cutting, milling and mixing of quantities. In this machine, a farmer can use farm wastes such as dry grass and dry maize stalks as the base material to make their own poultry and livestock feeds.

Three-in-one machine

Engineer Gatagia refers to the three-in-one machine as the little wonder-working machine every farm should have.

It is well suited for chaff cutting, mixing of different raw materials to make feeds and also acts as a milling machine.

It has a little window that is opened when it is being used as a chaff cutter. In this way, material being cut including maize stalks, napier grass and edible weeds such as black jack and leaves of beans are cut into pieces and ejected 3 metres away.

Raw materials such as soya beans, wheat and even herbs are fed into the machine where the little opening is closed. They are then crushed together and mixed with other ingredients to make animal feeds. The machine is also powerful enough to crush dry steamed bones to make bone meal. The petrol driven machine costs Sh120, 000. At JKUAT, farmers are trained how to operate the machinethat works with different types of sieves to make a dairy meal and chicken feeds.

“The biggest challenge to poultry farmers is the high prices of chicken feeds. But with the machine they get after training, the farmers are able to make the feeds on their own,” says Mr Gatagia. He says the three-in-one machine prevents wastage as it adds value to seemingly useless weeds and other waste materials.

Fruit pulper

Seasonal fruits come once and disappear. When they are in plenty, they flood the market making farmers incur losses. But value added fruits like tomatoes, oranges and mangoes can have a longer shelf life even after the fruits go out of season. Where a ripe tomato fruit stays for not longer than two weeks, tomato pulp can last 8 months.

Engineers at JKUAT have developed a motor driven fruit pulper that squeezes juices from oranges, pineapples, mangoes and tomatoes. The machine that is connected to electricity has screws that squeeze out juice from the fruits and a sieve that that separates the juice from the fruit.

For households and small scale farmers, the machine that does 30 kilos of fruit in one hour costs Sh160,000. A more complex version of the machine, capable of doing half a tonne of fruits in an hour goes for Sh220,000. This version is suited for industrial production.

“In just an hour, the machine does work that is equivalent to eight men working non-stop in a whole day,” says David Chitayi, a senior technologist.

Washed fruits are fed into the machine that has a processing chamber fitted with brushes that squeeze the juice out of fruits against a sieve.

Roasting machine

The machine is used to roast groundnuts, soya beans, simsim and any other type of grains.

It is a system of a metallic drum connected on a normal cooking gas cylinder. Once the grains are fed in the drum, the system is switched on to rotate in a clockwise direction to attain the required roasting temperature. Once the temperature is attained, there is a buzzing sound on the switch. At this point, the grains are allowed time to roast. Length of time varies depending on the type of grain.

After that, the roasting drum is switched to rotate in an anti-clockwise direction to let out the roasted grains.

The machine, capable of roasting up to 30 kilograms of groundnuts in one batch, costs Sh320, 000.

Mr Gatagia says the roasting machine can also be converted into a drying system for fruits and vegetables.

“Roasted groundnuts obviously cost more than raw ones. With the machine, only little labour is required to fetch juicier offers from the grains,” says Gatagia.

Farmers who cannot afford costly drying systems can also feed chips of bananas, cassavas, sweet potatoes and fruits into the roasting machine to dry them.

Macadamia dehusker

For macadamia farmers, the biggest headache is removing the outer husks before they take them to manufacturing companies. Most of these companies only take the nuts with their hard husks on them, and not the green skin.

According to Mr Gatagia, farmers still use sticks to scrape off this husks off the nuts. The alternative is using the thumbs to remove the outer skin, which is a pain-inflicting ordeal.

The machine at JKUAT is metal bar on which the nuts are pressed for dehusking, a mortar and a wheel which rotates exerting pressure on the nuts between the mortar and the metal bar to separate them from the husks.

The husks and nuts with their inner hard husks are collected in a bucket of water where they are separated. The nuts sink in the bucket while the husks float on the water.

The machine which costs Sh45,000, does up to three 90-kg bags of macadamia in one hour.

Motorised sorghum thresher

Many farmers still use sticks and sacks to hit sorghum and millet off the husks and straw, a time consuming process. Additionally, a lot of grains are thrown away with the chaff because they are not efficiently threshed off the husks.

This is what inspired the JKUAT innovators to come up with an engine driven motorised sorghum thresher to hammer grains from sorghum and millet straw. Threshed grains and chaff are passed through an air blower that rotates at a high speed to winnow away the chaff and allow the grains to roll to a collecting point while the chaff is ejected from an expelling hood.

The machine costs Sh150,000.

Briquette making machine

This machine turns useless rice husks and other farm wastes into briquettes.

Coupled with an easy to improvise carbonizing furnace from, say, a 200-litre drum, the machine makes charcoal from dry leaves, rice husks and grass. Soil or any binding material is added to the carbonised matter and fed into the briquette making machine where it is compacted and allowed to dry.

The machine that costs Sh250, 000, can make 150 kilograms of briquettes in an hour. A modified version of it which costs Sh600, 000 can make more pressed briquettes used industrially in boilers to dry tea leaves.

“With the current logging ban in Kenya, other alternatives of making charcoal come in place. With the machine, farmers can convert the waste from their farms into useful charcoal,” says Mr Gatagia, the JKUAT technologist.

Cassava grater

Harvested tubers such as cassavas and potatoes have a limited shelf life unless they are converted into products with a longer shelf life, according to Gatagia. Cassava flour, for instance, can stay for up to a year before it goes bad. To make cassava flour, little chips of the tuber are allowed to dry in the sun or in a dryer. Gatagia says there is little technology available to grate cassavas into smaller sizes that can take a shorter time to dry. Some only cut the cassava manually using knives.

The cassava grating machine, which can also be used to grate all tubes of tubers before drying is motor-driven and allows the tubers to be ground into small chips on a screen. The pieces are collected and allowed to dry. According to Gatagia, grating allows tubers to dry faster.

“Grated cassavas take just about an hour to dry in a solar dryer but take longer is dried as a whole. The time however varies depending on the kind of tuber,” he says.

The machine, capable of grating 50 kilos of tubers in an hour, costs Sh160,000.

SOURCE, standardmedia.co.ke

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