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Improved maize threshing machine "Kungula"

Kungula reduces post harvest maize wastage, faster and cheaper than any machine on the market today.

Photo of Tom Kalyesubula
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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

Maize is the most grown crop in Uganda yet FAO and the ministry of Agriculture estimate that only 40% of the maize grown ends up on the market. While most farmers grow it for consumption there is a lot of wastage post harvest. On harvesting, farmers sun dry, then put the maize in sacks which they then beat with sticks to get the grains off the cobs. The other common method is the slower process of using hands to take the grains off the cobs one by one, manually. Both processes are very slow and the former being the more prevalent one, very wasteful as the grains break when hit repeatedly with sticks. Broken grains are waste and pieces of the cob, soil/dust particles and chaff mix with the output. Some farmers have got access to threshers but these also have their shortcomings arising from the fact that they do not have a winnowing component and so farmers have to lose more time and labor costs to separate the chaff and dirt from the grain. For this low quality output farmers get very little in the market not to mention the waste that characterizes the whole process. Our machine makes the whole process very simple, very fast and produces clean output at a very low cost. The Kungula threshes and winnows 1000 Kg of maize per hour using one litre of fuel.

WHO BENEFITS?

Our target beneficiaries are maize farmers in Uganda. More specifically the small holder farmers in the rural parts of Uganda that are most affected by the fluctuating maize prices when it comes to market. That is why the whole design process centered on continuous farmer community consultations. Human centered design approach was used in the development of Kungula.

WHERE WILL YOUR IDEA BE IMPLEMENTED?

Yes, while we hope to scale to the rest of maize growing sub-Saharan Africa, our primary target market presently is Uganda. We have worked with maize growing communities in Pader and Nakasongola districts in the design and prototyping phases.

ARE YOU IMPLEMENTING IN AN ELIGIBLE COUNTRY?

  • Yes

EXPERTISE IN SECTOR

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for over a year

EXPERIENCE IN IMPLEMENTATION COUNTRY(IES)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOU!

We are a mechanical engineering design startup based in Uganda called Earthly Energy Designs Limited. We combine innovative technologies with engineering expertise to build sustainable solutions to local challenges in machine and energy systems.

IS THIS IDEA NEW FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION?

The idea is new in the sense that we have not designed and fabricated a maize thresher in the past. We have been developing it for the past year now with help from stakeholders such as the Resilient Africa Network. Besides designing and fabricating other machines especially agricultural machines, our other projects include designing sustainable energy systems.

HOW IS YOUR IDEA UNIQUE?

The Kungula has an inbuilt centrifugal winnowing fan that separates impurities like dust, chaff and broken cobs from the maize grain. It also removes 99.2% of the maize from the cob and ensures that 97.4% of the grains are whole. Producing 1000Kg of maize per hour on 1 litre of fuel , the overall results of our efficient design is the highest quality maize grain in larger quantities than what farmers have today. We arrived at our design through a protracted human design process through which we were uniquely informed on the needs of the farmers during the need finding process. This means that the kungula design and functionality directly solves the farmers' problems. Stakeholder engagement and the iteration processes also enabled us to connect with the farmer organisations across the country. This will enable easy access of farmers to our solution.

WHO WILL IMPLEMENT THIS IDEA?

The original project team of the Kungula and the full staff of Earthly Energy Designs Limited is devoted to make the Kungula goal come true. The project team is led by Sekanyo Steven the General Manager of Earthly Energy designs limited. Kungula is presently our flagship product and we are all committed to scaling it to success.

HOW HAS YOUR IDEA CHANGED BECAUSE OF BENEFICIARY FEEDBACK?

We got insights into the desired financing options. As the unit cost of the Kungula is too high for the small holder farmer, we are exploring what partnerships we can build to reduce the burden of price on any one person. One of the approaches we are taking is contracting with groups/ saving and credit co-operatives organisations and providing a mix or hire purchase and credit extension facilities. The other insight that came out of the feedback was the design of a manual alternative to the Kungula which is hand operated and very cheap. While Kungula retains the ultimate advantages for scale, speed and cleaner output, the manual option provides a feasible alternative for the lone small holder farmers.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS IDEA?

Our design is very unique and efficient but we are concerned about keeping it out of the hands of the local craftsmen who will undoubtedly try to replicate it even with limited success and to the detriment of our brand. The other really big question we have is how do we produce cheaper? Achieving this without compromising on quality has proved challenging yet it really is the most logical way to make Kungula available for all the small holder farmers who cannot presently afford it. These two questions are the drivers for our R&D program.

WHY DO YOU THINK THE PROBLEM YOUR IDEA SOLVES FOR HASN'T BEEN SOLVED YET?

The local machine design and fabrication industry is not versatile and professional enough because it relies heavily on local artisans. Uganda's agricultural industry relies on mainly imported machines whose producers have no presence on the ground to clearly understand farmer needs. Therefore the imported machines are not customized to solve the unique problems of the indigenous farming community. The other reality is that imported machine demand is driven by large scale or institutional producers who have the resources to weather price fluctuations in the maize market.

WHAT WOULD YOU ULTIMATELY LIKE TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS IDEA? WHAT IS YOUR NEXT STEP TO GET THERE?

Having already designed and fabricated the improved maize thresher “KUNGULA” The team is currently in the scale-up phase establishing relevant partnerships and channels to help them avail the machine to Ugandan maize farmers. We would like to further improve the design of Kungula so that it can be able thresh other crops. Our long term goal is to ensure that farmers within Uganda and East Africa at large are able to earn more from their produce by embracing the solutions that Kungula offers.

MEMBERS OF MY TEAM HAVE BEEN WORKING TOGETHER FOR:

  • Between 6 months and a year

MY INTENDED BENEFICIARIES ARE:

  • Within in 500 km of where our team does most of its work

MY ORGANIZATION'S OPERATING BUDGET FOR 2015 WAS:

  • Under $100,000

The Kungula is an improved maize threshing machine designed by our team at Earthly Energy designs in Uganda. The name Kungula comes from the Luganda word for Harvest. Its USP is a winnowing fan that separates maize grains from all other impurities during the threshing process. The result is very high quality output with which farmers can leverage higher prices in the market place and a drastic reduction in wastage as 99.2% of the grains are taken off the cob and 97.4% of them are whole. 



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Photo of William Lanier
Team

Hello Tom,
We are happy  to see improved threshing because that will increase net production. However, when the grower has the increased production that improved threshing brings where will they store the investment so growers capture the net benefit?
The team at <https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/agricultural-innovation/ideas/storage-to-reverse-grain-postharvest-loss> would like to know if mobile utility storage would help Kungula growers?
William

Photo of Stephen Ssekanyo
Team

Dear William,
We have looked through your idea and, yes proper storage is an important part in reducing post harvest losses. Also, Mobile utility storage as an approach is unique and innovative in solving the storage problem.

I have sent you a private message about the same and hope to hear from you. 

Thank you and best regards.

Photo of William Lanier
Team

Hello Stephen Ssekanyo,
William (NeverIdle) hopes you are doing well and wish to invite you to the "1st All African Postharvest Congress and Exhibition (March 28 - 31) Nairobi"
<http://africa-postharvestconference.uonbi.ac.ke/>. We hope to meet and discuss more about Moisture meters and testing to Reverse Grain Postharvest Loss."
Regards,
William

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