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    By George Munene

    ASOBO, a Mbita based start-up founded in 2019 leverages electric engine power that reduces the daily cost of operating fishing boats by around 25 per cent.

    Given the upfront cost of purchasing the electric motors are high; the company offers the e-boarders as a long-term rental with the daily rental rates on average lower than what fishers currently spend. This enables them to save money in the long run.

    Included will also be the full financing of the system, daily recharging of the batteries, all necessary maintenance and repairs, training of boat owners and crew, and a 24/7 helpline with rescue back-up.

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    Speaking to How we made it in Africa company co-founder Laurens Friso explains; “The primary issue for the consumers is cost, and fuel is by far the biggest contributor. Fishers have very little leverage when buying petrol or diesel. There is also a high degree of unreliability and maintenance expense that comes with a traditional petrol or diesel engines, along with a high upfront cost. With our electric engines, the daily cost is on average around 25 per cent cheaper, and our service model means the costs are a lot more predictable, which makes things a lot easier if, for example, there is a bad catch on a particular day.”

    Using electric outboard engines – e-Boarders – powered by renewable energy also improves the livelihoods of people depending on Lake Victoria by greatly reducing harmful emissions and pollutants of the lake’s ecosystem. This is especially important given 76 per cent of the lake’s fish species are threatened by extinction which will have a bearing on the livelihoods of 30-50 million people.

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    Fishermen are able to acquire the electric outboard engines on a pay-as-you-go basis. Their incomes the company points out will increase as tens of thousands of small-scale fishers in Lake Victoria often waste money on inefficient, inconvenient, unreliable, and highly polluting petrol outboard engines. The electric-powered engines promise predictability, reliability, and affordability, whilst being comfortable and safe.

    The e-boats run on 24-3500 battery with 3.5 kWh that comes with a backup service in case anything goes wrong. They are developed by Torqeedo, a German global leader in developing electric outboard motors.

    Phone: +254 114 833 688

    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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    By George Munene

    UjuziKilimo is a Kenyan agritech startup that collects and analyses agricultural data geared towards enabling the world's smallholder farmers to improve their productivity and reduce risks through data-driven precision insights.

    This data provides farmers granular information on personalised weather patterns, market information, proper agronomic practices, insurance options, etc. This enables them to practice knowledge-driven agriculture; making smarter decisions such as what crops to plant and exact amounts of inputs to apply, and when to harvest for better profitability.

    Smallholder farmers operate over 70 per cent of Africa's farmland. Despite this, the scope of data application by these 33 million smallholder farms remains largely minuscule. This is despite its obvious benefits in lifting farm yields and earnings.  

    Founded in 2014, some of the services the company offers to farmers include:

    Soil testing  

    Soil tests are conducted through the use of a handheld sensor to quickly and easily measure the pH levels, macronutrients (NPK), electrical conductivity, and organic content of your soil.

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    Through a monthly subscription, farmers get an unlimited number of soil tests, technical support, fertilizer and lime application recommendations. These are relayed as real-time reports and recommendations through SMS. Farmers can also manage all the data on their Farmssuite account.


    This is a cloud repository that stores all your user-specific farming data. Ranging from the basic free plan to the Sh1,615/year Super Farmer bouquet, farmers get services such as unlimited farmer queries through SMS, farm input insurance, market data and linkages, yield estimation, input financing, reports and analytics, satellite-based crop protection recommendations, digital agronomy services, seed and fertiliser recommendations, comprehensive macro and micro soil tests and weekly weather updates.

    Ujuzi Data 

    UjuziKlimo processes millions of data points daily and uses them to create a specific and highly accurate soil and agronomic data pool. Leveraging this agronomic data, farmers can have better insights and tailored high-level analytics reports that refine their decision-making processes.

    The company has earned recognition and accolades from bodies such as the African innovation fund and the royal academy of engineering. 

    In May last year, it received Sh18 million worth of technical funding from Wadson Ventures capital firm. 

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    “Through the US$ 174,000 worth partnership commitment, UjuziKilimo will be able to scale its operations, providing intelligent agronomy information to eligible smallholder farmers affiliated to selected co-operative societies, national and county government agencies. Co-operatives interested in receiving free support should sign up by the UjuziKilimo website,” UjuziKilimo founder and CEO Brian Bosire said. 

    Ujuzi Kilimo

    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Tel: +254 (0) 20 2008408

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    Tractor imports

    By George Munene

    A computer operations supervisor by profession, Peter Musakali has cut a niche for himself within the agriculture space in helping farmers source for and acquire European second-hand tractors and agricultural equipment which are less than half the cost of newly bought tractors. 

    “A new tractor bought from a dealer in Kenya costs about Sh3.5M; this puts mechanised farming out of the reach of most of our farmers. An imported second-hand tractor costs between Sh 1.1 and 1.3M, making it preeminently more affordable to farmers,” he illuminated. 

    According to the Malabo Montpellier Panel in a report titled Mechanised - Transforming Africa's Agriculture Value Chains, despite accounting for 60 per cent of the world total unused arable land and the most favourable climate for farming, Africa is the region with the least mechanised agricultural system in the world... African farmers having ten times fewer mechanised tools per farm area than farmers in other developing regions. Affordability was cited as the main reason for this shortfall.

    Having been in what he describes as his side hustle since 2007, he helps 6-10 farmers acquire their exact pick of Ex-UK tractors every month.

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    Musakali cautions farmers who are looking to acquire tractors from outside the country not to be taken in by good-looking pictures online. “You have to build working relationships and conduct thorough due diligence,” he cautioned. 

    He sits at a unique vantage point to do this; “through established contacts across Europe I have access to sellers and people I've worked with for years who examine the agri-machinery before purchase to verify that everything is in good working order and ascertain that the pictures I have match what is on the ground, explained Peter. 

    At least once every he also visits Europe to collect the references of farmers that may be looking to dispose of their tractors.

    He counsels farmers looking to buy imported tractors need to be cognizant of four categories the tractors come in: 

    1. Standard farm used tractors which he deals with are bought worn but in the exact state, they were in off the assembly line. They have never been ‘opened up’ or repaired. 
    1. Preconditioned tractors. These are tractors that were faulty and have had to be ‘opened up’. They are repaired, repainted, and visibly new. 
    1. Tractor parts are also imported into the country from disparate places before being assembled.
    1. Lastly, there's the farm used tractors.

    Being agricultural equipment, tractors are only charged a 14% VAT and exempt from both customs and excise duty.

    Older tractors also come with generators which were replaced with alternators in the 1990s. While generators can still power the machine, alternators are more efficient and easier to fix. An alternator costs about Sh4,500.

    Peter exclusively deals in John Dear, Ford and Massey Ferguson tractors. These are the trusted brand names farmers seek out.

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    Their manufacture dates range from between 1960 to early 80s. This is also a factor of market demand; “Kenyan farmers are still wedded to ancient tractors--older machines are durable and farmers trust the brand models they grew up seeing till their farms,” he said.

    Most of these tractors he pointed out have been overtaken with time and would not meet current European manufacturing standards. ” Kenyan farmers are however apprehensive about buying semi-automatic tractors or even ones with gear sticks on the steering wheel or to the side. Getting them to move off the ‘tried and tested' is not an easy feat, Peter lamented.”

    With time however he hopes to see a steady march of farmers seeking out more modern tractors; “There was a time you could not get anyone to buy an automatic car, now you would struggle to find one stocked in a showroom,” he said.     

    Peter Musakali: 0722701981/ 0752701981

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