Motorbikes, machines that have helped ease transport problems in Kenya, are finding new uses each day in the East African nation. From ferrying passengers and luggage to lighting homes, innovative Kenyan farmers are now using them to spray their crops.
In the latest usage, the machines are used to power or pull the pesticide sprayer effectively lessening work for farmers. With pests and diseases rising on farms in Kenya due to climate change, farmers in the country are using pesticides more than before.
Most small farmers have been using knapsacks which they carry on their backs as they spray the crops around the farm. This can be a tedious exercise in case one has to spray more than an acre, the size most smallholder farmers in the East African nation have. But motorbikes are making the work easier for the savvy farmers by not only cutting the time of spraying time but also the costs.
Timothy Wachira, a farmer in Kirinyaga, central Kenya, is among a growing number of farmers using the machines to spray their crops.
Wachira explained on Tuesday that the trolley sprayer has three wheels, a chemical storage tank and a handle. “The machine must be powered by either a generator or electricity, which runs it. For me I have none of the two, I thus turned to what I have, which is a motorbike,” says the farmer who grows vegetables, tomatoes and capsicums.
According to him, it takes him some 20 minutes to spray a quarter-an-acre using the machine attached to the bike.
“The pesticide tank has a capacity of 100 liters, which I fill with chemicals mixed with water, and the trolley has three nozzles. With continuous spraying of the crops, it takes me about 20 minutes and by this time, the machine would have consumed half-a-liter of fuel, which is very economical,” he said.
Beatrice Macharia of Growth Point, an agro consultancy, said that besides the trolley sprayer, there is also the option of mounting the sprayer onto the bike.
“It all depends on the sprayer you have, if you have the trolley sprayer, you push it on the ground as the machine powers it, but if you have a small spray boom, you mount it at the back of the motorcycle.
In this case, the machine works as a tractor as it pulls the sprayer and powers it as the work gets done,” she said. The most commonly used method in Kenya by smallholders, however, is the trolley sprayer, according to Macharia.
There are close to a million motorbikes in Kenya, according to the Transport Ministry, with the price going from 60,000 shillings (598 U.S. dollars).
A majority of them are used in the transport business where they are known as Boda Bodas, but the machines are increasingly finding new roles, including on the farm, due to saturation in transport taxi.
“Using a motorbike saves farmers’ money and makes the machines much versatile than earlier thought in Kenya. It takes half-a-liter of petrol, which costs 0.5 dollars to spray quarter an acre for 20 minutes.
This is much affordable and cost-effective as compared to manual spraying or using electricity,” she said. Enditem