Two enterprising farmers in Isinya have purchased bicycle powered maize sheller, a device that remove grains from husks at forty times the rate of shelling by hand, a venture they are now cashing in on as farmers in the area bets on the device to save cost and time. The portable maize shellers have been recording booming business in Arusha Tanzania where they have been on trial since 2009. They were introduced there by The Global Cycle Solutions,GCS, a not for profit organisation that finds ways to using bicycles as an alternative source of power. The organisation imports the machines from China.
Justin Lemaiyan and Stephen Leshao have been involved in sale of curios in Arusha for the last 15 years and it is while in Arusha that they learnt about the maize shellers. After watching the trials and getting convinced, they decided to each purchase two of the machines each at a cost of Sh5,000 per machine. “I have about half an acre of land which on a good harvest produces some 15 bags of maize. The task has been in shelling the maize which my wife and children used to do by hand. It is both laborious and tedious because they only manage to shell just two bags in a day,”said Leshao who now shells upto 15 bags in a day.
But it is the growing demand for the maize-sheller by farmers in Isinya that has now seen him abandon his earlier job as a trader. In a day he shells over 20 bags which he charges Sh300 per bag and pocketing Sh6,000 daily. “This is way cheaper than hiring labourers who would on a busy day shell at most three bags and I pay them Sh250 meaning I spend roughly Sh750 a day on three labourers and to have them shell my fifteen bags would take them over a week.
The maize sheller is a game changer,”said Peresian Lankenua a farmer.
It is a reasoning shared by farmers across Isinya area. The machine is not the first bicycle powered maize sheller. Earlier machines could do the same job, but they were large, difficult to transport, and required permanent alterations to the bicycle onto which they were attached. This new sheller uses a small bicycle attachment that can be hand carried and temporarily attached to any bicycle using an adaptor, called the 'Rahisisha', which allows the cyclist to mechanically power the devices without modifying the bicycle. "The platform creates a moving business," explained Lisa Tacoronte from GCS. "You ride to your customer, flip down the bicycle stand, attach the maize sheller or grinder, and begin pedalling."
The machine has a a rear stand from where lies the opening where the maize to be shelled is placed. The user then starts pedalling the bicycle which then triggers the sheller to start removing the grain from the husk. The process is simple and hustle free. “And its good exercise. The beauty with these machine is that anybody can do it.
Even my children finds it so easy to pedal, and when their mother needs the maize shelled, its my children who does it,”said Leshao as he grips the handlebars tight and pedals furiously.
The shelling business has become so booming that Lemaiyan is also considering buying two more shellers to cater to the demand in other areas of Kajiado. “We are just waiting for some more to arrive later on from China, we have already made our orders in Arusha. I have managed to employ two men who move in the villages and I also assist once in a while. We do over 40 bags a day combined but the demand is upto 100 bags,”said Lemaiyan.