Moi University Innovation of Moisture Meter and Cobbed Maize Dryer Launched

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Moi University, through a collaboration with the University of Kassel in Germany, has come 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” named 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.

Speaking at the event, Dr Njuguna hailed Dr Muchilwa, terming him a Kenyan hero who has sought a vital solution for 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 also a lecturer in Moi University’s School of Engineering, Department of Mechanical, Production, and Energy Engineering.

Dialogue between academicians and artisans

Dr. Muchilwa developed the project based on a collaborative design model establishing a dialogue between academicians and 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’s throw away from Kitale Flyover.

The Moisture Meter and Cobbed Maize Dryer.
The Moisture Meter and Cobbed Maize Dryer.

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 the 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, mouldy 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.

Environmentally friendly

The dryer can receive cobbed maize with moisture content as high as 35%. Inside the Drier is fitted with a Thermo-hygrometer that measures temperature as well as relative humidity of the air surrounding the cobbed maize.

Further, 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 also 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 more efficient to operate.

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