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    By George Munene

    A solar insect light trap is one of the most effective tools of insect pest management in both organic and conventional agriculture as it mass-traps both insect pests sexes reducing farm pest burden by up to 80 per cent.
    Light traps are energy-saving and easy to use and independent of electricity allowing farmers to monitor and control insect pests. As a one-off 5–6-year investment it significantly reduces the repeated costs of buying pesticides.

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    With a majority of flying pests harmful to crops being nocturnal, they are hard to control by conventional methods. Light traps, one for every half an acre, used at the onset of the planting season control nearly all the insect pests that attack crops from fruit borer moths, hoppers to fruit weevils. By attracting and killing one adult moth, for example, farmers can control around 300-400 subsequent insect progenies.
    Light traps also help farmers figure out what types of insects are there in the field and whether they are at a controllable level or not. If the insect population burden is too heavy to be controlled by a light trap the farmer can decide on a more potent pest management method they’ll have to take up.
    The solar insect light trap has the advantages of being portable; it can be easily fixed at any place of the crop field using a tripod stand and can be shifted easily from one plot to another. They are made of steel and plastic and powered by a 10–15-watt solar panel. It should be set 3-5 feet from the floor— the height at which flies typically travel. It is also automated; switching on at 5 pm and going off at 8 am; meaning the farmer does not require to examine it all the time.

    Related News:Boda boda powered coffee pulper increases processing capacity eightfold
    One downside to using light traps is that they do not filter out what insects are attracted to them meaning some nocturnal beneficial insects can also be caught and killed. With time their UV coating also wears off and even though the lamps still light, it needs replenishing or else it won't attract and trap as many flying Insects.

    Organic Farm 2 Home Ltd: 0711303668

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    By George Munene

    A private company, Manufacturing on Wheels Limited, has teamed up with the Dedan Kimathi University of Technology to roll out motorbike powered and mobile agro-processing machines. The first system scheduled for commercial rollout taps motorbike power to drive a manual coffee pulper that can process up to 400kgs of cherry per hour compared to just 50 kilograms farmers archive through manual pulping.

    A drive system developed by the university’s engineering team connects to a motorbike engine using a coupler which transmits power to the pulping machine at a pocket friendly cost with one liter of petrol working 800 kilograms of coffee beans.

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    The shaft is connected to the boda-boda engine with minimal disruption meaning motorbike riders will be able to easily repurpose their bikes into processing machines. Manufacturing on Wheels Limited is looking to recruit boda-boda operators, especially in rural regions cut off from the national grid, to acquire the drive system and offer the threshing and pulping service at a fixed per kilogram fee to coffee farmers in their regions. The service will also include post-processing training and management, grading, pricing and sales coordination.

    Beyond enhancing production capacity, the new invention also promises to improve the quality of coffee produced.” With this machine the rate of revolutions per minute is constant, which is not achievable in manual pulping, this reduces bean breakage to a negligible one percent. Due to its quick working time the machine also retains the foam or mucus formed while pulping which enhances the coffee’s fermentation and improve its taste,” explains Dr Fredrick Mwema an engineering lecturer at the Dedan Kimathi University of Technology. 

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    The Nyeri county government is working to avail the automated coffee pulping machine to farmers. “We are training boda-boda riders to provide coffee pulping services as a business helping them earn an income and streamline our agricultural value chains,” says Benjamin Gachichio the county’s Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries CS.

    Dedan Kimathi University of Technology Institute of Food Bioresources Technology (IFBT): +254729 373 564

     

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    WhatsApp Image 2020 05 03 at 11.57.48 PM

    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.

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    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

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