University to Produce Motorbike Engine Driven Pulping Machine
An agro-processing and trading start-up company has collaborated with Dedan Kimathi University of Science and Technology to assemble a motorbike engine powered coffee pulper that is set to revolutionize the ailing subsector by enabling farmers to sell parchment at the farm gate.
The innovation by Manufacturing on Wheels Ltd targets to bring an end to raw coffee beans deposits with agents such as cooperatives, millers and marketers by turning smallholder farmers into traders.
Currently, smallholder farmers deposit their produce with cooperatives at no declared value and wait for up to six months before they receive whatever amount remains after the agents have paid themselves.
The one of a kind equipment taps the motorbike’s power to drive a manual coffee pulper with a processing capacity of 400 kilos of cherry per hour.
The innovator, Githuku Mwangi, approached the university last year with a view of utilizing its ingenuity to tap the motorcycle engine power to automate the manual pulper.
The university assembled a team of young mechanical engineers and quality experts who were able to modify a manual coffee pulper from Coffee Agriworks Ltd to run on a motorbike engine.
The innovator and the university have filed a join patent for the innovation with commercialization and mass production set to commence in February 2021 ahead of the early coffee harvest of May to July.
According to Mwangi, the technology will see boda boda operators recruited to acquire the drive system and coffee pulpers to enable them offer pulping services at a fixed charge per kilo to coffee farmers at home.
To this end, Mwangi, said the firm was arranging a lease finance for the boda boda operators in partnership with the Boda Boda Investment Scheme recently launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The firm projects to sell 10, 000 units of the drive system next year once mass production is rolled out.
Mwangi continued that the recruited operators would also receive training on post-processing, grading, pricing and sales coordination to deliver a seamless process.
To get pulping services, Mwangi said farmers will be required to register and book the services when they are harvesting and pay a 50 percent deposit on the estimated weight of their coffee in kilos and the balance after completion.
He said the operators will also be expected to grade the cherries before and after pulping to ensure farmers earn optimal prices.
Once the coffee is dry, the firm’s extension team will grade and price the coffee and then assist the farmer in selling the parchment direct from farm.
Fine details on pricing and operations of this mobile coffee processing equipment will be released early next year when the firm is expected to have finalized contracting assemblers, boda boda operators and recruitment of coffee buyers.
Mwangi who was a member of the Presidential Taskforce on Coffee Sub-sector Reforms was optimistic that the regulations will herald a new dawn for farmers and the industry at large.
The University Vice-chancellor, Prof. Ndirangu Kioni said the university was ready to collaborate with the private sector players to mechanize agriculture.
He said the university had launched a Science Park to house entrepreneurs to work closely with the university to test and commercialize ideas.