Erratic weather conditions in Laikipia County drove David Burii to think of a way of lifting the burden of drying maize off the farmers’ shoulders.
Short rains that normally pound the region during harvesting time leave maize farmers with huge losses as it render their maize crop to rot. Perennially these farmers have been depending on sunshine to dry the commodity.
The new maize drier, Easy Dry, that uses maize cobs as fuel to dry the crop has come in handy, and now farmers can easily dry their harvest with ease and get guaranteed returns.
“I was motivated to start this project after I realized that most farmers’ plant and harvest maize very well but during shelling and drying, one ends up losing everything,” said Burii.
“I started by trying to fix up scrap metals for roughly a year. Later on, I got someone who supported my idea and funded me to the tune of Sh55, 000 to acquire aluminum sheets as raw materials, which I then pieced together to come up with this drier,” the innovator noted with satisfaction.
The two compartment equipment that has a diesel motor attached to combustion chamber to help in fanning the heat has also a mesh rack that can accommodate six sacks at a time.
The portable machine can dry up to six sacks of 90 kilograms maize within 2 hours. The previous method took up to three sunny days and over a week during the rainy season.
“You can now dry more maize in a day unlike in the past. The drier is very reliable during rainy or dry season,” said Burii.
The machine sources its energy from fire which can be gotten from lighting maize cobs from the shelled maize. The warmth is then directed to the maize with the excess heat and smoke being churned out.
The father of four, whose display attracted scores of people during the Laikipia Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fair, at the Nyahururu stadium last week, has given new lease of hope to farmers in the area, who produce an average of 10 bags per household.
This machine reduces the risk of aflatoxin by 33 per cent since moisture in the maize is completely eliminated.
“The raised rack also keeps the maize away from direct contact with the ground and thus clean maize free from bacteria is assured every time one is using the machine. Furthermore, the maize remain smokeless as the chimney ensures all smoke is let out, and only heat is fanned to the drying rack, attached to the combustion chamber with a canvas,” says the class eight drop-out who has purposed to deliver clean maize to the consumers.
The innovator, whose ambition is to reach other farmers in the country, is now seeking for funding to develop more equipment. The at a cost of Sh.90,000 each, though the same can be hired from the source at Sh.3, 000 per day.
“It has taken me four years to perfect this drier to the current state and this has enabled me to also innovate five other machines, including a maize sheller and chaff cutter. Other designs remain on paper as funds have always been an impediment,” added Burii.
On copyright issues, the 40 year old is not worried that his designs may be imitated by others for selfish gains.
“It is very hard to duplicate my work as the connection I have used in the body cannot be easily done by someone else unless with my input,” Burii asserted.
By Liberata Wairimu