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    Farmers can convert deadly carbon monoxide gas into cooking energy while making charcoal from waste wooden pieces for reuse or sale using a stove from the Kenya Industrial Research Development Institute (KIRDI).

    Carbon monoxide, also known as carbon II oxide, can cause death due to suffocation. The colourless and odourless gas poisons red blood cells by cutting their ability to carry oxygen around the body, resulting in death.

    The gas’s ability to easily catch fire to release heat and harmless carbon dioxide can be tapped for recycling wooden pieces littering construction sites and other workshops.

    KIRDI has come up with Gastov, a stove that not only allows for farmers to harness the gas for cooking, but also converts the wood into charcoal for sale.

     Because of the danger of the gas, the stove must be used in the open where there is sufficient air circulation to avoid the risk of poison.

    About nine 10cm long dry sticks of about two centimeter squire are inserted into the combustion chamber before the top part is lit to glow and release smoke tails. 

    The top part of the stove is covered by its special lid then the smoke tails are lit.  Because the cylindrical chamber is airtight, combustion of the wood pieces continues to release carbon monoxide together with smoke tails.

    READ ALSO: Low cost carbon charcoal takes pressure off Kenya forests

    The released gas is burnt on the upper part before escaping into the atmosphere. A cooking pot or pan is placed on the lid holder at the top.

    Because of the limited air for combustion of the wooden stick, they continue glowing for about three hours. After cooking, the glowing sticks are covered by a hood to go off to become charcoal.

    The smoke, together with the gas can cook a mix of dry maize and beans, commonly called githeri, for ten people in the three hours.

    The charcoal can be accumulated for sale or reuse in the ordinary stoves.

    READ ALSO: Duo modify local stove to create a safer,cheaper cooking option

    Although wood is the commonest material, any other substance that can be compressed and burnt to produce smoke can be used too.

    KIRDI sells the stove at Sh5,000.

    PHOTO: An innovation enthusiast admires carbon monoxide flame from the Gastove at the Nairobi International Agricultural Society of Kenya on October 7, 2016. The stove allows for farmers to turn poisonous carbon monoxide into cooking energy. PHOTO BY LABAN ROBERT.

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    Manual Groundnut decordicator.JPG

    Farmers can shell over 30 times more groundnuts per person per day using a manual decordicator machine from the Agricultural Technology Development Centre (ATDC), Mtwapa, Kilifi County.

    The machine can shell 60 kilogrammes of groundnuts per hour.  It is approximated that one person can shell between one and three quarters to two kilos per hour by free hand.

    Kea Bakari, an ATDC official based at the Coast institution, said the machine saves farmers more man-hours spent in removing the shells from groundnuts by free hand.

    “It is a cost effective and cheap to maintain machine because no fuel is required to run it. It eases the work for farmers, therefore, helping them avoid losses resulting from the seeds rotting in bad weather,” he said.

    Despite the speed, the machine does not cause breakage of the seeds. Its teeth are spaced in such a way that they only remove the outer ‘coat’ allowing for the seeds to move to the collecting chamber below.

    READ ALSOValue addition earns double cash for groundnuts trader

    Whole seeds are of high quality, therefore, fetch more income for the farmers. At the same time, crashed seeds are prone to humidity, which reduces their shelf life besides exposing them to attacks such as aflatoxins. 

    Aflatoxins are poisonous fungi that attack foods, especially seeds and cereals.

    READ ALSOThis is how to grow and earn millions with groundnuts

    The machine costs Sh9,000.

    PHOTO: Indian women learning how a groundnuts decordicator works. Kenya's ATDC is selling a manual decordicator machine that can shell 60kg of groundnuts per hour. PHOTO BY

    For more inquiries, centre can be reached on +254722764503 or any nearest Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation.

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    Farmers may soon spend about a sixth of the current tillage costs per acre after the Jomo Kenyatta of Agriculture and Technology commercialises its cheap fuel multipurpose Shujaa Tractor for small-holder farmers.

    On average, it costs about Sh3,000 to hire a tractor for one acre. The big tractors need more than 10 litres to till the same piece.

     Paul Apondi, a mechanical engineer at the university said the tractor consumes six litres of diesel to plough one acre.

    Based on the current diesel cost of Sh85, six litres oil is about Sh510. The engineer said such an amount is affordable and farmers can use the excess to invest more.

    “The aim of this innovation is to help small-holder farmers, who rely on oxen and jembe in preparing land. The mini tractor will be cheap to acquire and easy to maintain. Its running costs are lower than the big tractors,” the engineer said.


    The machine is being tested on efficiency to work in the various soils around Kenya before the price is fixed ahead of commercialisation.

    READ ALSOSAME tractors enter Massey Ferguson’s turf

    In addition to tillage, Shujaa can be used in application of agrochemicals, planting, making ridges, weeding, transportation, among other chores in respect to the attached implement.

    READ ALSOMakerere University unveils tractor made of wood

    Farmers are increasingly moving to the emerging two-wheeled hand-held tractors. But the tractors need more labour to push and some of them pose health risks due to the high vibrations from the handles.

    READ ALSOMultipurpose tractor helps farmers harvest potatoes without cuts

    The four-wheeled tractor, whose Swahili derived name means hero, is easy to operate and can run better even on elevated topographies without manual support. 

    Shujaa has been improved from an Indian three-wheeled prototype, which was less effective in working in the African heavy soils like the black cotton, Apondi said.

    READ ALSOCheap walking multipurpose tractor for small-scale farmers

    JKUAT is working in association with the Society for Research Initiative in Sustainable Technologies and Institutions, India to adjust the tractor to meet the local needs.

    PHOTO: Excited farmers surround the JKUAT Shujaa tractor to learn more about it at Kabiru-ini Agricultural Society of Kenya Show Ground, Nyeri, on September 17, 2016. The tractor consumes six litres of diesel to till one acre. It is expected to cut  tillage costs by more than five times. PHOTO BY LABAN ROBERT.

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