Moi University, through a collaboration with the University of Kassel in Germany, came up with an innovation of a Moisture Meter and Cobbed Maize Dryer to address the losses maize farmers face during the post-harvest season. The masterpiece invention christened “Etemo Dryer” after the inventor, Dr. Isaiah Etemo Muchilwa, was launched on Friday 22nd October 2021 in Kitale, Trans-Nzoia County. The launch, whose theme was “Bridging knowledge from the academia and skills from the artisans to address post-harvest maize loss”, was officiated by Moi University Chairman of Council, Dr. Dr. Humphrey K. Njuguna. Dr. Njuguna was all praises for Dr. Muchilwa, terming him a Kenyan hero who has sought a vital solution to maize farmers in the country and beyond. The innovation was led by Dr. Muchilwa in partnership with Prof. Dr. Oliver Hensel, who heads the Department of Agricultural Engineering at the University of Kassel in Germany. Dr. Muchilwa is an incubatee under Moi University’s Africa Centre of Excellence in Phytochemicals, Textile and Renewable Energy’s Incubation Centre (ACEII PTRE-IC). He is a lecturer in Moi University’s School of Engineering, Department of Mechanical, Production, and Energy Engineering. Dr. Muchilwa developed the project based on a collaborative design model establishing dialogue between academicians and the artisans with a view to learning from each other and co-creating a lasting solution to farmers’ problems so as to ensure food and nutrition security in the country. Working in collaboration with Kitale Jua Kali, the project now stands tall at Maridadi Farm Enterprise, just a stone throw away from Kitale Flyover.The project was funded through a research grant from the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research under the First German-African Innovation Incentive Award, with additional support from Volkswagen Foundation.It enables farmers to have their produce dried faster in a more hygienic environment to maintain quality. Cobbed maize to be loaded into the dryer is first pre-selected to ensure no rotten, moldy or germinated cobs go in. It is important to harvest early after the maize matures on the field to minimize losses from excessively wet weather, theft, and damage from rodents and weevils. The dryer can receive cobbed maize with moisture contents as high as 35%.Inside the Drier is fitted with a Thermo-hygrometer that measures temperature and relative humidity of the air surrounding the cobbed maize. The Thermo-hygrometer is linked to an android app, making it easy to monitor the goings-on in the drier using a phone from as far as 50 meters away. Before the cobbed maize is offloaded from the Dryer, its moisture content is measured using either the Moisture Metering Bottle innovation or a conventional moisture meter. Maize with a moisture content of 13.5% is deemed to have been sufficiently dried for storage.The Dryer is environmentally friendly since it uses solar energy and in the absence of solar, it uses crop residues to generate heat and energy, hence making it cheaper and efficient to operate. During the launch of Etemo Dryer, also present were Moi University Council Member, Mr. Christopher Khaemba, and Moi University Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Isaac S. Kosgey. Other members of Moi University Management Board present were Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic Research and Extension, Prof. Isaac Kimengi, Deputy Vice Chancellor Students Affairs, and Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor Administration, Planning and Development, Prof. Nathan Ogechi and Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor Finance, Prof. Daniel Tarus. From the ACEII PTRE, there was the Centre Leader, Prof. Ambrose Kiprop, Deputy Centre Leader, Dr. Rose Ramkat and Incubation Centre Leader, Prof. Eng. Kirimi Kiriamiti, among others.The event was also graced by Trans-Nzoia County Commissioner, Mr. Samson Ojwang, and Mr. Dishon Omurwa Chebukuyi, the father to Kenya’s and Africa’s sprint king, Ferdinand Omanyala Omurwa. My Chebukuyi works with Trans-Nzoia County Government.
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