livestock
livestock

Innovators in Kenya are coming up with various machines that are helping livestock and crop farmers boost their productivity.

The machines are homegrown solutions to the challenges farmers are facing, which include erratic weather pattern.

The locally fabricated machines are enabling farmers to irrigate their crops easily using solar energy, make quality animal feeds and store grains to avoid post-harvest losses, among others.

To enable smallholder dairy farmers to make a total mixed ratio (TMR) feed for their cows, Ludovicus Okitoi of the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research (Kalro) has come up with a machine that compacts hay and other ingredients to make a nutritious meal.

The machine that runs on electricity or is manually operated makes what he calls TMR blocks.

“To make the feed, one takes dry grass like lucerne or Boma Rhodes and adds molasses, soya or cottonseed cake and compresses it in the machine,” he explained on Monday.

A farmer ends up with a small block of feed that they can store and use later, especially during the dry season.

“This technology enables farmers to store their nutritious feeds for the long-term, therefore, they will not worry about fodder even when it does not rain,” he said.

Because of their ingredients, the blocks are more beneficial to the animals than ordinary hay, which consists of only dry matter. “One can also make the blocks and sell them to other farmers earning good income,” he said.

According to Felix Akatch of Egerton University, the major advantage of TMR feeding is that it reduces the risk of acidosis in cows, making the animals more productive.

For Jackson Amahati, his solar pump taps energy from the sun to draw water from a reservoir and pump it into the farm after detecting there is little moisture in the soil.

Amahati, who displayed his machine at the Kakamega agricultural show in western Kenya recently, said the gadget has a moisture sensor, therefore, it saves farmers a great deal sine they do not need to be there physically to irrigate the firm.

Grain storage is a big problem for most Kenyan farmers, with many of them losing their produce to weevils and long grain borer, a deadly pest that wipes out tonnes of cereals, especially maize.

Kenyan farmers, however, can now use cylindrical metal silos made by a church in Nakuru, south west of Nairobi.

To use the cylinder, which comes in various sizes, one puts the grains that include maize inside. They then light a candle and put inside the silo and cover the lid.

Once all oxygen burns, the candle goes off, according to John Muraya, who sells the gadget. The metal silo has enabled farmers to store their maize as long as they wish after harvesting, protecting it from weevils, rats and other destructive pests.

Florence Kibui, a farmer in Nakuru, said she has been using the gadget for the last two years and has been able to conserve her 10 90-kg bags of maize from pests.

Beatrice Macharia of Growth Point, an agro-consultancy, noted that with climate change effects biting in Kenya, farmers must embrace technology to boost their yields and conserve their produce.

“I would really recommend for anyone to use the solar pump because this encourages water harvesting, irrigation use and makes works easier for the farmer,” she said.

She added that while there are dozens of homegrown innovations in Kenya, they don’t reach farmers due to lack of mass production. Enditem

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