Modernise your agribusiness with one of these technologies

Ms Shalom Mbugua, Synnefa Business Development Lead displaying a farm shield

Ms Shalom Mbugua, Synnefa Business Development Lead displaying a farm shield, which acts as a brain in a farm to regulate operations, at the Agritech Africa exhibition at KICC.

Photo credit: Sammy Waweru | Nation Media Group

Last week, the Kenyatta International Convention Centre was swarmed by agriculture enthusiasts, who trooped to the venue to sample various technologies that were on display.

The three-day event known as Agritech trade fair attracted exhibitors from Germany, China, Turkey, USA, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Brazil as well as Kenya.

The latest agricultural technologies were on display, from farm machinery and tools to water harvesting and irrigation, agro-processing, dairy, poultry and post-harvest management. Seeds of Gold brings to you some of them:

Multipurpose chaff cutter

This machine exhibited by a Brazilian firm helps livestock farmers make their own feeds to cut costs. The machine grinds grains and fodder at once. The 7Hp two-litre petrol engine machine, according to Nelson Omwalo, a Brazilian embassy representative, has a control point to adjust the sieve.

“Besides being a chaff cutter, it grinds any type of foliage such as napier grass as well as grains and mixes them into a palatable feed,” Omwalo explained, revealing the equipment is manufactured by Trapp, a Brazilian company.

From the feeding pots, the raw materials are transmitted to the crushing chamber. The processed materials are then discharged through the mesh to the powder room.

Output varies, for foliage it can process up to 1.2 tonnes per hour, fine broken grains 700kilos an hour while grains and cobs are processed at the rate of 430kilos per hour. According to Omwalo, the machine goes for Sh75,000.

Automated poultry cage for layers

Big Dutchman, a German company that operates in Kenya, showcased the poultry unit that seeks to promote the welfare of chickens.

Made of aluzinc metal, the modern structure is fitted with feeding troughs and drinking systems. The battery cage system has a reservoir installed overhead, which supplies water, said Burton Kihiu, a sales representative at Big Dutchman.

“It has a feed cut which distributes feed evenly, while the water system is automated,” he stated, noting it is efficient in feed management, hygiene and egg collection. The system dispenses water through nipple drinkers. Through the modern structure, there is minimal feed wastage said Kihiu, adding that a farmer monitors and gauges the performance of birds. The automated cage that has a capacity of 112 birds has a height of 1.7m, width 2.1m and length 2.4m.

“Production costs are largely cut because of its efficiency,” Kihiu said, adding that the system is best-suited for laying birds since it makes egg collection easier.

It retails at Sh60,000, said Kihiu, noting they have bigger capacity units that host from 168 to 10,000 birds.

Vegetables planter

Most farmers plant vegetable seeds and seedlings manually, but do you know you can do the task using machines, faster and efficiently?

John George and Jaya Guru, who are manufacturers of vegetable seeds planters for smallholder and medium farmers in India, displayed the technology.

The young innovators, who are co-founders of Rower, exhibited two models of seeding machines dubbed Micron and Hop-5.

Seeds are loaded onto hoppers or seed boxes and the machine is then pushed as it creates furrows where it drops seeds and covers them with soil. “You set seed spacing with the help of the gearbox,” George said.

Fertiliser or manure is manually spread on the land before operating the machine. According to the innovators, it can be pushed by a person or two, taking four to five hours to plant an acre. Micron retails for Sh35,000 while Hop-5 Sh110,000.

They are best for planting cabbages, spinach, tomato, onion, chilli, beetroot, lettuce, coriander and carrot, among other vegetable seeds, saving up to 40 percent labour expenses, said George.

Farm Shield

Synnefa, a Kenyan company that assembles farm tools and equipment, displayed an automated irrigation system called Farm Shield. It monitors and regulates operations inside the greenhouse.

The system has sensors which are put in planting media–soil–to collect data and information on moisture content, nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium and calcium, temperature, pH level and light intensity, then transmits to the device for action.

Shalom Mbugua, Synnefa business development lead, said it has a memory card and is connected to a mobile phone. “Farm Shield is the brain of the farm, it makes decisions in case of variations, for instance, switching on and off irrigation systems,” she explained.

If nutrients or pH level are below or above the optimum level, the gadget disseminates signals to the farmer through text message, email or a phone call for action. It’s a real-time device, Mbugua stated, adding a farmer applies what is precisely needed in crops. “A farmer is not necessarily required on the farm. Its efficiency and sustainability is paramount in conserving water and fertiliser,” she noted.

The kit goes for Sh55,000 and besides greenhouses, it can also be used in an open field. The company is working with 10 farmers who have embraced the technology. Sanyal Desai, the CEO of Radeecal Communications, the organisers of the expo that was held for the first time in three since the outbreak of Covid-19, said Kenyan farmers need such technologies for quality production and more income.

Agriculture CS Peter Munya called on farmers to embrace agriculture technologies to boost food security and incomes.

Oil extractor

As the cost of cooking oil rises to unmanageable levels, a company showcased a technology that can help Kenyans extract oil from nuts.

Shreeja Health Care Products from India displayed the oil maker, which according to Mehul Vekariya, the CEO, extracts oil from any type of nut seeds. These include sunflower, mustard seeds, peanut, sesame, almond, walnut, coconut and soybean.

“We have domestic oil extractors and also commercial ones,” Vekaroya said, adding the company manufactures five models.

For domestic use, the smallest unit extracts about 1.5 to 2 litres per hour and the biggest, 2.5 to 3 litres. After extracting oil, the waste, which is normally rich in fibre and proteins, said Vekaroya, can be used to formulate livestock feeds, pesticides and fertiliser.