October 2017—About the size of a wheelbarrow, Stephen Ssekanyo’s “Kungula thresher” fits nicely on the back of a motorcycle. That means he can deliver it deep into rural areas where the unpaved roads become tracks and farmers rarely gain access to technologies. But by delivering his innovation to the farmers’ fields, he is helping them to prepare clean, ready-to-package maize at a price they can afford.
Common postharvest practices among rural farmers in Africa lead to 60 percent food loss. Smallerholder farmers in East Africa typically spend hours laboriously hand shelling or “stick beating”—the practice of repeatedly whacking a bag of maize cobs with a stick to remove the kernels.
Ssekanyo’s tool is reducing postharvest losses. Unlike many models of mechanized threshers, the Kungula thresher can handle cobs that have a high-moisture level, catering to the realities of smallholder farmers who do not have adequate cob storage to let the harvest dry, and cannot wait until the harvest dries for sale or consumption. High-moisture content makes the maize susceptible to mold growth and insect infestation, resulting in a high amount of broken grains and low milling yields. Read more here.