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7.500 farmers access cheap agriculture machinery through self-help model

Kenyan smallholder farmers are utilising the Machinery Rings (MR) self-help model to access mechanised farming services without having to purchase costly farm equipment.

Originating in Germany, the concept relies on a local member-based self-help network of individual farms or agricultural contractors who share and pay for individually owned agrimachinery. A member farmer can be a provider of one service while they hire a different service from another farmer.

MR coordinates the supply and demand of machinery as well as setting the charges and acceptable standards of the work. This ensures there is transparency in what farmers are charged and efficiency in getting the services to them. 

It is also involved in labour placement and providing access to agricultural markets. 

Related News: Tractor ploughing services double farmer earnings, lower production costs 85%

Related News: Farmers half costs with ripper ploughing in conservation agriculture

There are currently 19 Machinery Rings in Kenya with 7,500 members in Nyandarua and Bungoma Counties. These MRs enable farmers who farm on 1-3 acres to utilise modern technology and participate in mechanisation and technical progress without bearing the risk of unprofitable investments. 

Currently, just 26 per cent of Kenyan farming households have access to ploughs, 13 per cent to tractors and 4 per cent to combine harvesters. This low uptake of agriculture mechanisation has greatly stunted Kenya’s agricultural potential.

Having access to farm machinery services has been shown to  double Kenyan farmer earnings while lowering production costs by 85 per cent.

Small-scale farming however often rules out self-mechanisation due to economic reasons, leaving only the option of working by hand or hiring contractors. Most contractors also use outdated ploughing technologies that result in low yields and low incomes. 

Rebuild degraded soils

One key focus of the Machinery Rings project is the use of innovative shallow to zero tillage ploughing implements which help to rehabilitate degraded soils and increase yields. 

Related News: Conservation agriculture halves ploughing costs while preserving soils

Traditional ploughing techniques such as the use of discs subject soils to constant degradation which is exacerbated by inappropriate farming and climate change.

MR provides conservation tillage tools such as rotavors, chisel ploughs and dick harrows with rollers on a rental basis as well as training farmers on climate-resilient agriculture.

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