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Saturday, 26 April 2014

Stakeholders meet to discuss how to operationalize maize drier

By Bob Aston
Stakeholders in the grain sector from Ol-Moran, Kinamba and Sipili Divisions in Laikipia County held a meeting on April 24, 2014 at Sipili DO,s office to discuss how to operationalize the grain dryer that has not been in use for more than a year.
The eight (8) million Ksh maize dryer has been under the custody of Sipili Cereal Bank but it has not been in operation since it was brought to Sipili.

Kamau chairing meeting to discuss operationalization of the drier
James Kamau, Sipili Division Agriculture officer who has also been trained on how to operate the drier chaired the stakeholders meeting which was attended by Ministry of Agriculture officials as well as Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society, Ng’arua Cereals and produce SHG, Sipili Cereal Bank, Ol-moran Cereal Bank and Ndurumo Cereal Bank.
The batch dryer is capable of drying 3.5 tonnes of maize per hour. This translates to 39 bags per hour. The dryer can dry maize to the required moisture content of 13. Five (5) tonnes of maize can be placed at once in the dryer.
Kamau informed the different stakeholders that the government recognized that farmers usually lose their produce during post harvest handling. He cited last year December when heavy rains prevented farmers from properly drying their maize.
“We have a drier in Sipili and any interested party is free to use it. We have to set ways in which the community can benefit from it as it is a public utility,” said Kamau.
Shelled maize has to be dried properly to avoid hazards associated with microorganism and discoloration due to high moisture content. Poor drying methods have been cited as a major cause of aflatoxin contamination in Kenya.
“We have to start by test running the dryer to see whether it is still operational. Once we have done that we will meet again to discuss on ways of utilizing it,” said Kamau.
Mechanical maize dryer enhances efficient drying and possibility of long term storage and good quality.
Some stakeholders viewing the drier
Kamau said that 80 litres will be required to test run the machine. The dryer will require 70 litres while the tractor which will run the dryer will require 10 litres.
The banner of the dryer can consume 60 litres per hour or less which accounts for 12 cents per kg per moisture content drop. Tractor will consume 7 cents per kg per moisture drop. One moisture drop roughly takes 24 cents per unit based on 110 cost of diesel.
“In essence, per moisture drop it will take Ksh 26 per 90 kg bag. This cost will have factored in Insurance cost, maintenance cost, mark up cost and operation cost,” said Kamau.
Kamau said that the tractor that will run the dryer should be one with 135 HP and must also have a good battery.
The different Cereal groups and Co-operative agreed to meet on May 17, 2014 to test run the dryer.
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