James Mwangi with the Ultra-Power-150 Model B tractor from the KITI, The tractor requires about Sh200 to weed one acre of potatoes or maize. Photo by Laban Robert.
Small-scale farmers would spend less than Sh200 per season in weeding on acre of potatoes and maize with the new fuel-efficient mini tractor from the Kenya Industrial Training Institute, Nakuru.
The Ultra-Power-150 Model B tractor requires two litres of petrol to weed one acre. Currently, a litre of petrol retails at about Sh98. That means a farmer would incur Sh196 in fueling the machine for the one acre.
The cost of hand labour in weeding an acre of maize or potatoes is between Sh2,000 and Sh3,000- depending on the region and availability of the workers. The weeding may take more than two days also depending on the number of labourers.
The labour for running the machine for the one person running the tractor for the one acre is probably less than Sh1,000.
“Depending on the speed and the experience of the driver, the machine requires about two hours weeding one acre,” said James Mwangi, the driver of the tractor, during the 2017 Nairobi Innovation Week Expo.
The eight discs are adjustable to fit the inter-rows. As the tractor moves forward, the discs keep rotating while pushing top soil towards the potato ridges or the rows of maize and uprooting the weeds.
The attachment holding the discs is less than two feet high. This, therefore, means the machine can only be used in weeding maize on the first and second rounds. But for the Irish and sweet potatoes, it is used until harvesting.
The walking tractor can also be attached to a trolley and various light work tools for the farm in the farm.
Besides, it also helps farmers in harvesting cut-free sweet and Irish potatoes. Using ordinary jembes and hoes cause causes cut harvests, which fetch low prices in addition to a shortened shelf-life as the injuries allow for entry of microbes.
The eight discs are grouped into four on either sides tailing the about two and half feet high wheels.
Depending on the preferences of the farmer, the discs can be adjusted to a given angle to achieve desired results.
The tractor is one of the unique machines used in weeding.
The machine costs Sh250,000.
Mwangi can be reached on +254714679569.
The institute can be reached on +254738233765/ +254714579276/ +254774944615.