Combine harvesters, balers wow farmers at wheat expo
Three weeks ago, farmers, experts and industry players assembled in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County, for a wheat expo. Some travelled from as far as Meru and Nyeri counties to have a feel of the latest technology and best wheat farming practices. The Kenya Wheat Expo was organised by the Nation Media Group and partners. The theme of the two-day event was “Growing Wheat Sustainably for a Healthier and Wealthier Nation”. Wheat production has dwindled over the years, thanks to pests, diseases, climate change, the high cost of inputs and land fragmentation. Kenya imports up to 90 per cent of the grain from Ukraine, Russia and other countries. Players at the event included Unga Ltd, the Cereal Millers Association (CMA), CMC Motors, CFAO Kenya, Kenya Seed Company (KSC), TechnoServe, NCBA Group Bank and Eldoret Technical Training Institute (ETTI). Experts encouraged Kenyans to take up contract farming. Uasin Gishu Agriculture Chief Officer, Elphas Kessio, urged farmers to adopt modern technology and practices. “We should encourage contractual farming between producers or cooperative societies and millers in order to lock out middlemen in the value chain,” he said. KSC Operations Manager, Kipchumba Ngetich, said the company has enough certified wheat varieties for Kenya. CMC and CFAO Kenya exhibited their latest tractors. The gadget tells farmers if their wheat has the right moisture content. Silas Yego of African Grain Care Equipment (AGCE) Ltd said global warming has resulted in heavy rains, leading to post-harvest losses. One scoops 100g of grains and places it on the machine, which gives a reading instantly. “Traditional growing zones witnessed above normal rains from September to November last year, leading to astronomical losses,” Yego said, adding that the losses were up to 30 per cent of the yields. Farmers can also use silos and elevators to preserve moisture in their wheat. “They reduce post-harvest losses by five to 10 per cent,” Yego said. At the Camco stand were several innovations but the boom sprayer stood out. It enables a farmer to control pests and diseases in the field effectively. The sprayer is tractor-driven and covers 70 feet. The boom sprayer comes in sizes of 200 to 3,000 litres. It has a gauge to guide the farmer on the amount of chemical to be used in the field. Camco official, Stephen Marwa, said there are similar locally fabricated equipment for two to three acres. The small boom sprayers use petrol and are operated manually. “The boom sprayers come according to a farmer’s specifications. We have solutions for wheat farmers,” Marwa said. Farmers can adopt modern technology to produce animal feeds. After harvesting wheat, a farmer can use this innovation to bale straws or Boma Rhodes and use this as livestock feed. Baling machines and tractors were exhibited at the CMC Motors and CFAO Kenya stands. The machine can bale 1,000 to 1,600 bales a day, depending on the adjustments the wheat farmer makes. This was displayed at the CFAO Kenya stand. The harvester makes a farmer’s work easy. The axial flow combine harvester has a header, lateral tilt feeder, threshing system, cleaning system and a residue management area. It can harvest up to 65 bags of wheat or maize in a day, covering more than 10 acres. Large scale wheat producers, individuals involved in contracting services or small scale farmers can pool resources together and acquire the machine.