News and knowhow for farmers

Eldoret company develops tea picking device halving production costs

WhatsApp Image 2020 05 03 at 11.57.48 PM
Share on social media

By George Munene

Mobile Edge, an Eldoret based Agritech firm has introduced a new portable tea picking machine, M-Chai, into the Kenyan market that promises to be a game-changer for Kenyan tea farmers, enabling them to save on half their production costs, time expense, as well as improving the quality of tea they pick.

The profitability of tea farming is greatly hampered by the expense in tea picking labor which ranges between Sh10-13 for every kilogram of tea picked. At a one-off cost of Sh35,000 (vat exclusive), M-Chai picks tea six times faster than human plucking— the machine picks on average 200-240kg in eight hours, the average length of time it takes tea pickers to attain 40 kilograms.

“In trials run by Mobile Edge and tea processing factories prior to its rollout, the M-Chai-300 model attained 75-86 percent leaf quality compared to the accepted 65-70 per cent industry standard,” says Eng. Ben Lang, MD, Mobile Edge. Leaf quality is a major sticking point for farmers and tea manufacturers with tea often dumped for not meeting the set plucking standard. It also maintains a low plucking height ensuring an even plucking table.

Related News: Njeru Industries shakes up tea buying with fast payments

Related News: Tea industry beats clock picking and transporting in daylight

The company has partnered with KTDA to make the gadget accessible to both small and large-scale tea farmers, is working with multinationals such as Finlays, Uniliver, Eastern Produce tea estates and members of the Kenya Tea Growers Association (KTGA).

M-Chai is an intuitive single user device weighing 1.5kg that consists of a harvester and a rechargeable eight-hour lithium battery pack. The harvester is waterproof and air-cooled with a brushless motor and a two-piece self-sharpening 300mm horizontal blade. This is attached to a receptacle tray to receive the cut tea.

According to Lang, sales within the country have come largely from the country’s tea belt, with faster and more consistent adoption within the Western Kenya Highlands. The company has thus far sold over 3000 units in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia.

The machine requires basic maintenance practices such as cleaning and oiling after use as well as greasing it every so often. The battery also needs to be fully recharged after use. The machine comes with a one year warranty and the company provides maintenance, spares and service support to farmers in tea growing regions.

Related News: Kenyan tea farmers bet on new technology at collection centres for efficiency and transparency 

Mobile Edge also develops battery operated knapsack sprayers, small nursery seed applicators, amongst other small agricultural equipment.

Mobile Edge M-Chai: 254729531431, 020-2721195

Share on social media

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top