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Agri-tech helps improve smallholder livelihoods

A middle-aged woman who is an amaranth farmer from Ringa Kakelo in Homa Bay looks jovial as she harvests the crop’s grains at her four acres farm. She has all the reasons to smile because after harvesting it will take less than a week to thresh the grain with a multi-thresher and the bumper harvest will fetch her between Sh250 and Sh300 per kilo, a price that motivates her to wake up every morning to go to the farm.

“When I started this venture in 2016 harvesting and threshing the grain was a very stressful period but I’m happy things have changed as I’m using a multi-grain thresher to speed up the harvesting work,” says Ms Angeline Opiyo.

“Food processors who used to have issues with my amaranth grains are now happy I’m delivering clean produce and this has increased their confidence,” explains Ms Opiyo who is a retired primary school teacher.

“Amaranth is now like my retirement pension. I harvest between 35 to 40 bags weighing 90kgs each which if I sell at an average of Sh300 per kilo this gives me a gross income of about Sh300,000 after four months and this is good money for me as I have two children at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology,” said Ms Opiyo.

She is not alone. Her neighbour George Agong’, another farmer says harvesting the hardy crop has been simplified by the multi-grain thresher he borrows from his neighbour during harvesting season.

“I grow two acres and after harvesting, I use a multi-grain thresher which I borrow from my neighbour at a small fee. I don’t worry about harvesting the amaranth once the seeds begin to readily fall from the tassels the way I used to do by rubbing the seed heads over a bucket to remove them. I’m hoping to buy mine [multi-grain thresher] through my merry-go-round group when it’s my time to receive the money,” says Mr Agong’.

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