have recently begun to grow sunflowers although at the moment
they are only used as an ingredient in animal feeds. However,
those tests have proved to be successful - sunflowers grow very
well in the area. There is a demand for processed oil locally
but it can also be sold in larger quantities in local markets
such as Chuka and Kerugoya. It is also possible to extract oil
from peanuts grown locally.
Most local people buy oil produced by the big
national companies such as BIDCO and KAPA who buy local oil
and filter and package it. They are all processes that can be
carried out at a local level. Filtering simply involves pouring
the unrefined oil through a gauze cloth.
To make oil processing a commercial success, they would need
a press driven by between 3 and 5 horsepower. They would also
need to package it, with plastic bottles favoured. ½
litre and one litre bottles would be needed for the national
market whilst 250ml would be appropriate for the local market.
A method of automatically filling bottles to the required level
and of adding a label to the bottle would also add to the commercial
viability of such a small enterprise. The label would also need
to show that the product had been authorised by the Kenya Bureau
for standards (KBS).
Another possible small machine that would be valuable would
be a method for making sunflower cake from the processed plant.
It is used as an ingredient in animal feeds. Similarly a method
for electrically sealing plastic bottles or bags would speed
up the process.
There is a regular demand for welding. Not only
is it needed for repairs to existing metalwork but people see
it as a potentially lucrative market for gates, door, windows
etc. A small welding machine would require
- the capacity to weld 16 gauge or
1.2mm thick metal
- low power consumption and high
efficiency driven by 4-5 kilowatts
- low cost
- core magnetic material made from
- copper or aluminium conductors
- a hard heat-resistant plastic casing
- to run on 240 volts
- use of a single phase ordinary
Although safety would be a prime concern in UK, it is not in Kenya. There are
nothing like the same safety requirements and the ability for something
to work efficiently but cheaply is paramount. Increased safety increases
cost and therefore prices many products out of the market. I have seen
machinery driven by bare wires stuck into a socket.
Tobacco curing used to be the main small
enterprise but farmers are disillusioned with the low
prices they currently receive from big companies like
British American Tobacco. However, if an electrically
driven kiln could be introduced to replace the existing
firewood operation, then costs of production would be
Currently farmers use a clay kiln fed by heat from firewood
that passes through a series of pipes inside the kiln. Tobacco picked
from the fields is laid over racks higher up the kiln where it takes
five days to be dried (cured) properly. Initially the tobacco has to
be heated at a temperature of 100F. After two days it is increased
to 140F. For the fifth day the temperature is raised to 160F. If it
is ever allowed to go beyond those levels then there is a danger that
the crop will be ruined.
The farmers buy four lorries of firewood each season,
each lorry load costing 4000 shillings. Each kiln produces approximately
1500 kilos per season from two acres of tobacco plants.
A process that heated the kilns with hot air from the
ballast load overnight and retained the heat during the day would reduce
costs appreciably. It would need to be capable of maintaining a constant
One of the problems is that people do not
accept new ideas readily. They have to be convinced both
that something will work and that it will sell. There are
some obvious possibilities - but they might need selling
to the community.
- A slow cooker that operated on the overnight
ballast load could be used for cooking local meat or
vegetable stews or soups that could be sold both to workshop
holders and to their customers. An element and adequate
insulation would be the prime components.
- A wood lathe for carpentry
- A pillar drill for metals. Workshops
are rented for 300 shillings per month, a figure which
ITDG thinks to be ridiculously low. It is set to increase.
There will also be a charge for electricity use though
at the moment there is no method available for metering