Agriculture being the backbone of the Kenyan economy, mechanisation is paramount to increase the food basket of the country hence enhancing the economic growth. According to Vice Chancellor, Prof. Mabel Imbuga, Kenya has a well developed agricultural research ecosystem but it is lagging behind in the use of modern science and technologies in agricultural production.
“The average Kenyan farmers still use outdated and ineffective technologies to tend to their farms leading to low agricultural yields,” opined Prof. Imbuga.
She was speaking during the Kenya National Workshop Agreement (KNWA) on Low Horsepower Tractor Specification held on March 13, 2018 at Utalii Hotel. The purpose of the workshop was to review the proposed draft standard of the low power tractors with the aim of curbing the menace of food insecurity in Kenya. It brought together stakeholders from academia, government agencies and the private sector.
The review came at a time when JKUAT in collaboration with SRISTI of India and USAID had developed a cost effective low horsepower tractor dubbed Shujaa, to promote acquisition and accessibility of land preparation machinery and tame overreliance on animal power and human labour.
While challenging those present to reflect on the enormous impact agricultural mechanisation could have on the economy, Prof Imbuga acknowledged that the Shujaa tractor initiative fits well into the President’s Big Four Pillars of development. “With this tractor we are able to address the pillars of food security and manufacturing as envisioned by the President Uhuru Kenyatta,” noted Imbuga.
She also commended the Kenya Bureau of Standards for coming on board for standardization saying this will enhance the production of affordable tractors for small scale agricultural mechanisation empowering the youth and women to adopt modern farming practices and agricultural entrepreneurship.
Prof. Anil Gupta with a biased on grassroot innovation lauded the JKUAT-SRISTI-USAID team for the innovation and said the Shujaa tractor will go a long way in improving the livelihood and socio-economic status of the small-scale farmers. Prof. Gupta who is part of the SRISTI team termed the innovation as simple, yet an effective solution that can solve problems in Africa’s agricultural sector.
Prof. Christopher Kanali, the lead researcher of the Shujaa tractor, informed the participants that the JKUAT-SRITSI-USAID India project initiated in 2013 aimed at introducing affordable agricultural mechanisation in the country, as well as enhancing the capacity building of small scale farmers and SMEs on the use and manufacture of machines.
“We hope this initiative will promote the use of machinery in agriculture, reducing dependence on manual labour and draught animals thus increasing agricultural productivity,” explained Prof. Kanali.
The Shujaa tractor domiciled at the JKUAT Industrial Park has an engine capacity of 10.5HP, ploughing rate of 2 acres per day and a fuel consumption rate of 6 litres per acre. It was designed and developed by Numerical Machining Complex (NMC) in collaboration with SRISTI and JKUAT.