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A new device developed to keep chicken thieves at bay

An electrical engineer has developed an alarm system to alert small-scale farmers whenever thieves approach their chicken coops and goat pens.

The system uses a series of cleverly concealed sensors that trigger an alarm in the farmer’s house alerting them of the presence of intruders’ intent on making away with their poultry and small stock such as goats and pigs.

For as little as Sh10,000 a farmer may be able to install the basic form of the system that Davin Munene Gatura says was a response to the outcry by farmers who have been terrorised by thieves who specialize in stealing farm produce.

The thieves have been stealing farm produce such as banana bunches, sugar cane, arrowroots, macadamia nuts, muguka and sukuma wiki under the cover of darkness with incidents reported in all the Mt. Kenya Counties.

They have also been targeting chickens, rabbits, goats and even cows and it is the theft of these animals that Gatura has sought to control.

A farmer at Karurumo, Joyce Warue Njagi, said the thieves have been a nuisance to small-scale farmers, some of whom only have the chicken as their source of livelihood.

“They have been coming at night and sometimes whenever we are away attending church services. We suspect they spray something on the chicken which makes them sleep, then they stuff them in a sack,” Njagi said.

She said she has since known peace after she installed the alarm system because she is confident of getting alerted if a thief comes around. “Before we used to sleep with one eye,” she quipped.

Njagi said chickens seem to be especially popular with the thieves because they are very easy to dispose of. “Your chicken is stolen at night and by the following day someone is having it for lunch at a restaurant,” she added.

On another farm, Benjamin Wechuli said the thieves made away with his employer’s 30 chickens and a goat.

“We suspected they had a car or motorbikes nearby,” Wechuli said adding that cases of theft are rampant in their neighbourhood saying some neighbours have even lost cows.

“They come for the cows when it is raining and you cannot hear any movement,” he added.

Gatura said they tried to make the system cheap for the small-scale farmers who may not have a lot of money to invest in elaborate security systems. “We were thinking of the farmer who has ten goats and can sell one to invest the proceeds in protecting the others,” Gatura said.

His partner, Eric Munene Gichovi who handles the electronics part of the system said although they are trying their best to keep their prices down some of the farmers may choose options that may cost a little more.

He said their systems range from wireless to those connected by cable wires hence price differentials and said they have been receiving very good feedback from the customers who have bought into their idea.

By Steve Gatheru

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