Agricultural Technology Development Centre (ATDC) in Kilifi county has launched a manual maize sheller that will speed up maize shelling process. According to Kea Bakari, a field officer at the Mtwapa-based centre, said the machine shells between 70 and 90 kilogrammes per hour and a farmer can shell up to eight sacks daily.
“The maize must have little moisture to avoid loss of grains to crushing. A farmer can confirm dryness by crushing a sample of grain with the teeth. Dry maize crashes with a cracking sound.
The pieces scatter and a powder is seen upon careful scrutiny,” Bakari said. The machine will save farmers the burden of physically removing maize from cobs, a tedious, time wasting and costly exercise that is practiced by at least 85 per cent of smallholder farmers in the country, according to a research dubbed Maize Production, Challenges and Experiences of Smallholder Farmers in East Africa, by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).
“The machine reduces the cost of labour for the process besides fastening it to allow for proper aeration of the harvest for storage or marketing,” he said. He explains that the machine has finger-like projections which remove the grains from the cob as it moves through its chamber.
The chamber also allows the maize cob to move around, exposing the grains to the projections and also a handle which is rotated in a clockwise direction. When the grains are free, they are channeled into a receiving sack below the one metre-high sheller stand.
“The holding tray and the manual machine cost Sh6,000, while the stand goes for Sh3,000. Interested farmers can get the machine by contacting ATDC or the nearest Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation,” Bakari said.