HUYE - A newly invented rice thresher suitable for small scale farmers was inaugurated last Friday at the Institute of Agricultural Research’s experimental field in the area surrounding Gikonko Rice scheme.
The locally made machine, a product of a local agricultural engineer - Jean Claude Ndagano, is expected to significantly save farmers’ time spent processing rice, leading to more efficient farm operations and an increase in rice productivity, experts say.
Ndagano, an agricultural engineer from the Rwanda Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) last year participated in an eight-month technical training in Japan under JICA’s capacity training program which gave him insights that led to the invention of the machine.
“The machine we are inaugurating today is a product of this training,” said Ndagano. “I have made a simple machine that is very cheap and easy to use by our small scale rice farmers. The machine will boost rice processing while at the same time guarantee its quality.”
The manually operated machine that costs Rwf200, 000 has a capacity to process 140kg of rice per hour. It is made up of a threshing drum, support frame, a bicycle sprocket chain and pedal.
Suzuki Fumihiko, the agriculture program manager at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Rwanda Office, said that the machine is cheap, light weight and can be easily replicated by local farmers. Suzuki added that the machine has a potential to play a key role in boosting rice production in the country.
“Rwanda has great potential for rice production but in order to boost production we have to look at the inputs; we need more fertilisers, good variety seeds and advanced farming techniques,” he said.
“We also have to look at post harvesting techniques which is an important step in rice production. Farmers are losing a lot of rice after harvesting.”
Joseph Rwagasana, the president of the association of Rice growers from Huye, Gisagara and Nyanza districts, noted that new farming techniques and improved rice varieties have boosted rice production in the area.
“We are now able to produce about 6 tonnes of rice per hectare in most of our rice cooperatives. A lot of rice was being lost during the threshing period; we hope that this new technology will address this challenge,” he said.