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Hand tractors set to revolutionize farming in Kenya

Most of sub Saharan farmlands are still cultivated with hand hoes and agricultural processes are manually done, thanks to the prohibitive costs of machinery from the West and a gradual devaluation of African currencies, which has led to very high costs of agricultural inputs and stunted progress towards full scale mechanization of farm productivity process.

In the Kenyan context, previous efforts by successive governments to change this pattern failed to register success owing to a number of factors that led to the failure of such projects, such as mismanagement, nepotism and corruption.

Over 60 per cent of farm power in Kenya is still provided for manually, with overbearing consequences falling on the shoulders of women, the elderly, and the youth. This has made the once noble vocation to be frowned upon by the younger generation who prefer to migrate to urban areas, and with high rates of unemployment, end up in crime as a source of earning a living.

But this is set to change owing to a number of Chinese hand tractor companies that have set up shop in the country among them Guyue and Nileblock.

Fast, strong, fuel efficient and affordable, Guyue hand tractors are by all means promising. The machine is easy to operate and the spare parts are readily available from the numerous outlets found in most urban centers across the country. 

Guyue hand tractor is not a large tractor; it is neither too expensive to own nor too cheap to let farmers with marginal holdings down; it’s a tractor all can identify with.

The 15HP diesel walking tractor comes with additional implements i.e. Anti-wrapping blades and therefore able to plough, make ridges and dig trenches for planting. The hand tractor can as well be modified to pump water for irrigation by attaching a small pump of 10 meters suction depth and ideal in pumping for distances between 30 to 100 meters and best for watering small horticultural gardens.

“I planted 3 acres in one day with seven laborers, one operator making tranches using the tractor, two put fertilizer, three put seeds, and one covering the seeds using applicable machine. The total fuel consumption was only 10 liters of diesel,” confesses Odero Jowie from Siaya County.

According to Guyue company CEO Ms. Amy Liao, the hand tractor is more than a motor and wheels; it is a way of life and a source of livelihood for hundreds of small scale farmers who have been introduced to its usage..

Adoption of hand tractors for smallholder farming is a clear indicator of what impact China-Africa Cooperation has achieved.

Investment in hand tractors has created unrivalled opportunities for lasting wealth creation that has the potential of lifting the masses out of poverty. It provides assistance to transition farmers from subsistence crop and local market sales to products suitable for higher values and international markets, therefore increasing their income and creating a more robust industry value chain of farm production and processing in the long run.

Until recently, Chinese involvement in Kenya’s agricultural sector was majorly focused on technical assistance and capacity building. However, in the interest of sustainability, development of markets and the potential for expanded trade, China has facilitated public-private partnership providing incentives for its agribusiness corporations to establish outlets in Kenya’s Agricultural industry.

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