NEWS SERVICE REPORTS
FROM THE AFRICAN
wheat and maize
farmers dream of owning tractors
heavy soils, sometimes with murram
particles, it becomes hard to plough using
hand tools such as jembes or hoes
REPORT BY XINHUA Correspondent
It has been another hectic period as farmers
prepare their land for the planting season which
commenced this month.
often during land preparation periods such as in
early January or February, Kenyan farmers struggle
to hire tractors to plough their land and get
ready for the planting period which comes in
mid-March to late April.
everyone seeking these services, it becomes
disappointing to realize that ones land is not
ready as scarcity of tractors becomes apparent.
One has to wait over a long period to get a free
tractor to prepare your land. With over 110
acres of land, manual land preparation is not a
viable option,” laments George Njoroge, a
maize farmer in Ol Kalou.
like many farmer in the region rely on tractors to
open up virgin land or even previously ploughed
land for the planting season.
farmers in Laikipia, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Trans
Nzoia, Narok and Timau regions, where most of the
maize, wheat and barley are grown have to rely on
farm mechanization in almost all operations.
heavy soils, sometimes with murram particles, it
becomes hard to plough using hand tools such as
jembes or hoes.
Kenya, tractor hire services are offered by
private persons - - enterprising business people
investing in farm mechanization—by buying
tractors with their accompanying appliances such
as ploughs, harrows or planters.
many of the private hands do offer effective
service to farmers, complains abound on shoddy
quality of ploughing or harrowing sometimes done
by operators, some of whom have not had any
training in land preparation.
experts say that quality of work in sometimes
compromised by the nature of the farm machines in
private hands. Tractors in the country are quite
expensive an out of reach of many farmers.
instance, a new tractor from the manufacturer goes
for 2.5 million to 3 million shillings. Used
tractors, reconditioned ones, retail for 1.5
million shillings with ploughs going for 500,000
shillings and heavy duty harrows selling more
expensively at 1.5 million shillings.
harvesters are more exclusive at 25 million
shillings, a figure many farmers are reluctant to
part with as the machine is idle in most periods
of the year. Regular breakages require frequent
maintenance which increases the cost of owning and
operating a tractor.
is lacking in many private tractors in the
country. Many lack basic training in land
preparation skills such as harrowing, ploughing
or even spraying. It requires training in
getting a smooth tilth fit for planting a
certain crop such as maize or wheat,” says an
agricultural engineer with the Agricultural
Mechanization Services (AMS) in the Ministry of
this realization, the government has through AMS
been offering tractor hire services where a
trained operator offers ploughing, harrowing and
spraying service to interested farmers.
charge the market rates even though our trained
operators provide better quality work to
farmers. We also offer combine harvesters during
the wheat or maize harvesting seasons across the
country,” says the officer adding that large
scale farmers have been their biggest market.
charges 2,500 shillings per acre to open up virgin
land, 2, 000 shillings to prepare old land for
planting and 2,000 shillings for harrowing. For
combine harvesters, an acre of wheat or maize is
charged 1,200 shillings.
prices of diesel have affected the demand of these
tractor hire services as hire fuel prices kept off
the recent months however, prices of diesel have
declined tremendously from a high of 110 shillings
per litre of diesel to a low of 97
shillings—making cost of agricultural production
drop—making tractor hire services affordable to
Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) report
entitled “Farm Power and Mechanization in
Sub-Saharan Africa” notes that it would not be
economically viable for smallholder farmers having
less than 5 hectares on land to use tractor
also laments that while governments offered
tractor hire services have never been very
effective, they are now being hampered by poor
funding from governments, allowing the private
sector to continue their dominance in the
reports adds that with the government offered
services not viable, growth of the privately
rented market for tractors and operators will
continue to grow to fill the rising demand for
such services as African agriculture continues to
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