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    WhatsApp Image 2020 05 03 at 11.57.48 PM

    By George Munene

    Mobile Edge, an Eldoret based Agritech firm has introduced a new portable tea picking machine, M-Chai, into the Kenyan market that promises to be a game-changer for Kenyan tea farmers, enabling them to save on half their production costs, time expense, as well as improving the quality of tea they pick.

    The profitability of tea farming is greatly hampered by the expense in tea picking labor which ranges between Sh10-13 for every kilogram of tea picked. At a one-off cost of Sh35,000 (vat exclusive), M-Chai picks tea six times faster than human plucking— the machine picks on average 200-240kg in eight hours, the average length of time it takes tea pickers to attain 40 kilograms.

    “In trials run by Mobile Edge and tea processing factories prior to its rollout, the M-Chai-300 model attained 75-86 percent leaf quality compared to the accepted 65-70 per cent industry standard,” says Eng. Ben Lang, MD, Mobile Edge. Leaf quality is a major sticking point for farmers and tea manufacturers with tea often dumped for not meeting the set plucking standard. It also maintains a low plucking height ensuring an even plucking table.

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    The company has partnered with KTDA to make the gadget accessible to both small and large-scale tea farmers, is working with multinationals such as Finlays, Uniliver, Eastern Produce tea estates and members of the Kenya Tea Growers Association (KTGA).

    M-Chai is an intuitive single user device weighing 1.5kg that consists of a harvester and a rechargeable eight-hour lithium battery pack. The harvester is waterproof and air-cooled with a brushless motor and a two-piece self-sharpening 300mm horizontal blade. This is attached to a receptacle tray to receive the cut tea.

    According to Lang, sales within the country have come largely from the country’s tea belt, with faster and more consistent adoption within the Western Kenya Highlands. The company has thus far sold over 3000 units in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia.

    The machine requires basic maintenance practices such as cleaning and oiling after use as well as greasing it every so often. The battery also needs to be fully recharged after use. The machine comes with a one year warranty and the company provides maintenance, spares and service support to farmers in tea growing regions.

    Related News: Kenyan tea farmers bet on new technology at collection centres for efficiency and transparency 

    Mobile Edge also develops battery operated knapsack sprayers, small nursery seed applicators, amongst other small agricultural equipment.

    Mobile Edge M-Chai: 254729531431, 020-2721195

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    Amiran’s annual yard sale will be taking place from 31st October to 1st November giving farmers discounts of up to 70 per cent on selected items. These will include seeds, chemicals, biogas and irrigation systems and greenhouse items.

    The second such yard sale from the farm input and agri-consultancy provider will also feature communication equipment from Amiran Communications.

    The yard sale will be held at the manufacturer’s facilities at Old Airport North road off Mombasa road.

    To work out ways you can place off-site orders on the day or any queries you might have, reach out to Amiran on their toll-free line; 0800720720  

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    thresher

    By George Munene

    A multifunctional crop thresher serves as an innovative solution sparing farmers long hours and energy spent shelling cereals and pulses such as maize, beans, green grams, wheat, sorghum, millet and chia. As a one-off cost, it is also a great investment to the expensive repeat hiring of casual labourers and ensurers grains are shelled and stored on time avoiding post-harvest losses which account for cereals, legumes and pulses losses of up to 20 per cent in Sub-Saharan Africa.

    The basic, easy to use machine runs on a three or five horsepower electric motor (depending on the workload) or a 200 cc petroleum engine and is able to shell 150-100 kilograms worth of dried produce in under an hour.

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    The petroleum driven engine consumes slightly less than ½ liter of petrol for an hour’s worth of work.

    “The machine is intuitive, making its operation easy for any farmer and apart from regular greasing, requires little in the way of maintenance," explains George  Mwao of Benmwao Machinery and construction.

    The multifunctional crop thresher imported in from China costs Sh70,000-50,000, with the electric motor driven thresher costing slightly more than the one running on petrol.

    Benmwao Machinery Services: 0724724960

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