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    Smallholder farmers can now pump water for free from water sources such as wells thanks to an improved bicycle that can pump 20 to 30 liters per minute without use of fuel or electricity.

    On average, smallholder farmers spend up to Sh106 per day running water pumps that operate on fuel. This means farmers can save Sh3,180 a month on fuel costs with the adoption of the modified bicycle that can be used to irrigate farms all year round.

    Anthony Kabui, a Biomedical and Processing Engineering graduate of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology is the man behind the innovation. It would help farmers save on money and channel it to other farming sectors such as purchasing seeds.

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    To operate the modified bicycle, one has to be physically fit .Cycling at between 50 and 70 cascades per minute pumps 20 liters to 30 liters of water from a well, depending on the depth.

    In sub-Saharan Africa, one round trip to collect water is 33 minutes on average in rural areas and 25 minutes in urban areas according to a 2016 report released by UNICEF.

    Kabui uses a centrifugal water pump, which is run by rotating the pedal of a bicycle. The power generated through the pedaling is used to lift the water and push it through a pipe to where it is needed.

    The pump's shaft is connected to the auxiliary rim of the back wheel, which has a V-shaped belt. During cycling, power is transmitted between the front gear wheel and the back sprocket. The power generated is also exchanged through the bicycle chain, the auxiliary rim and the pump shaft with the V-belt.

    “The rate of lifting depends on the gradient from the source of water. Drawing water from a well, or reservoir will not be the same as doing it from a river or pond. Similarly, the diameter and length size of the connecting pipe influences the speed of getting the water from one point to the other,” said Kabui.

    Pipes with smaller diameters would allow for more water to pass per minute.

    Apart from the technical knowledge required in fixing the belts and pulleys the equipment needs no expertise, he said.

    “Pumps are expensive to maintain. Making profits starts with minimizing production costs. That is why I thought of coming up with a one-time cost device that eliminates the unnecessary bills after the initial purchase,” said Kabui.

    “Water from wells, tanks and other reservoirs required expensive labor to move it to the farm for irrigation. As farmers strive to bring down the costs of production to maximize profits, I believe alternative cheap sources of energy are required,”

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    With a population of 46m, 41 per cent of Kenyans still rely on unimproved water sources, such as ponds, shallow wells and rivers according to water.org, an organization that seeks promotes access to safe water and sanitation.

    Kenya also experiences cycles of long droughts, and these dry spells have increased over time. According to the International Livestock Research Institute, rainfall in Kenya has significantly decreased in the past five years as desertification stretches over the country's semi-arid landscape.

    The country has 5.5m hectares of arable land, but only 17 per cent is suitable for rain-fed agriculture with only three per cent under irrigation. In this, farmers can take adopt the technology to push more water to their farms to cultivate crops season in, season out without worries.

    The Kenya 2030 Water Resources Group report of 2016 reveals that the largest total users of water in crops are maize, pulses, fruit, tea, roots and tubers which are mostly rain fed. With drip irrigation however, farmers can increase the crop yields sevenfold.

    Having tested, identified and corrected most of the shortcomings, the Kiambu County's Kahawa-sukari-based innovator looks forward to commercializing the equipment, which he will be making upon order from any client.

     

     

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    Thirty five Nyamira farmers are set to pump water to their farms without incurring any cost after receiving donation of 35 moneymaker pumps from World Vision in collaboration with the ministry of agriculture.

    The pumps worth Sh525, 000 will enable farmers to irrigate their crops all year round without worries as they do not use fuel or electricity.

    The kickstart money maker pump can draw water up from 23 feet (seven meters) and has a total pumping head of 46 feet (14 meters). It can push at least 5,000 liters in a day and can be used to irrigate up to two acres of land making it suitable for smallholder farmers with small pieces of land under cultivation.

    As rainfall becomes unreliable and unpredictable due to climate change, farmers will take advantage of the pumps to produce food for subsistence and sale season in season out.

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    According to 2015 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, modern irrigation systems play a very limited role in Sub-Saharan Africa’s agricultural sector. Food production in the region remains almost entirely rain-fed and only two percent of the total cultivated area is irrigated.  Adoption of modern irrigation systems by farmers will therefore substantially increase crop yields resulting in improved incomes, reduced risk associated with drought, efficient use of limited water resources, and greater food production.

     “Farmers in Magwagwa, Bomwagamo, Bokeira  and other wards in the County have been drawing water manually from water sources but with these pumps our work will be made easier as we will be able to irrigate our crops comfortably,” said Milton Ongeri, the coordinator of farmers in the area.

    “Majority of farmers have been relying on water harvesting through construction of dam liners which is an expensive venture”

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    A farmer in Nyamusi location, Nyamira County demonstrates how to use the kickstart moneymaker pump. PHOTO/MILTON ONGERI

    The farmers are currently being trained on how to effectively utilize the moneymaker pump at select farms within the county. In this, farmers are equipped with knowledge on operations of the pump, skills and ways to realize their full potential for wealth creation and sustainability especially in this tough dry season between January and April.

    Nyamira farmers mainly depend on bananas and vegetables such kales, manage (black night shade) to sustain their livelihoods.  

    “With the pumps we will not be importing vegetables from Rift Valley any more, we will produce more vegetables for our own consumption and export” said Ongeri.

    In Africa, 310,000 money maker pumps at a cost of Sh15000 each have been sold to farmers creating 240,000 businesses resulting in Sh20b annual new farm profits and wages.

     

     

     

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      kikima dairy plant, makueni county.jpg

    The county government of Makueni and Kikima Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society yesterday commissioned Kikima Dairy plant worth Sh25 million shilling with the capacity to process and pack 300 litres per hour and 6600 litres in a day helping farmers avoid any milk wastages.

    The dairy plant based in Mbooni Sub-county and owned by the Kikima Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society makes Makueni County to be the first to sell its own branded milk dubbed Makueni Fresh milk making it the first dairy product to be processed in the county.

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    “Kikima Dairy Plant has now started production of fresh milk. Our farmers will no longer worry about wastage and lack of market,” said Governor Kivutha Kibwana on his twitter handle yesterday.

    “Makueni Fresh milk hits the Market. Makueni has now joined the league of milk producers with the commissioning of Kikima Dairy Plant.”

    The plant will increase milk processing in the country from 17 million litres of milk annually in the previous years to 18 million litres annually which is still below the consumption demand of 340 million litres annually. However, this guarantees market for Makueni Fresh.

    RELATED ARTICLE: Planned milk plants promise brighter days for Narok farmers

    The cooperative society has already made contact with supermarkets such as Mulleys, Naivas, Ngooni and Jimelli to supply them with the milk.

    In order to boost milk production among smallholder farmers in Makueni, the county stated a subsidized Artificial Insemination (AI) project aimed at gradually improving the genetic quality of milking cows.

    RELATED ARTICLE: Milk processing plant takes urban dwellers back to farms

    In this project farmers are required to pay only Sh300 per service whereas the government through the department of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries settles the balance.

    According to the Kenya Animal Genetic Resources Centre (KAGRC) the price of an AI service in the market ranges from Sh1, 500 to Sh4, 000 depending on the source of the semen.

    Since the AI project started in June 2014 and to date over 8,000 inseminations have been performed with over 5,000 calves born in the county.

    RELATED ARTICLE: Milk chilling plant changes fortunes of 6800 Rift farmers

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