NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 29 – Farmers using power tillers can significantly reduce labour costs and increase productivity of their farms according to a new report.

The report by STIHL East Africa indicates that power tillers can reduce labour costs by 60 percent and increase farm productivity by 50 percent.

“For small and marginal farmers, a power tiller is the best choice. It replaces animal power more effectively and helps in raising demand for human labour. Power tillers are capable of performing the operations of different farm implements like rotavators, furrower, ridgers, trailers, potato harvester & disc plough disc. One of the most important functions of the power tiller is that it prepares an ideal seedbed for the crop to be planted and turns the soil before planting as well as weeding on crop plantations. By controlling weeds, it helps in the proper growth of the crops,” the report indicates.

A power tiller is a two-wheeled agricultural implement fitted with rotary tines which help in preparing the soil for; sowing seeds, planting seeds, adding and spraying the fertilisers, herbicides and water. Another unique feature about the tiller is that it has a power take-off (PTO), offering a drive source capable of powering other farm equipment such as water pump, chaff cutter, hammer mill etc

The report was released at the sidelines of the Nairobi Agricultural Show, where STIHL East Africa launched a new range of agricultural products targeting over 60, 000 East Africa smallholder farmers.

The products are designed to enable smallholder farmers to adopt mechanisation in their farms in a bid to increase their productivity and income. The range of products available in the East African market include  tillers, water pumps,  brush cutters, portable sprayers, cultivators, and earth augers, made specially for East Africa smallholder farmers.

STIHL East Africa Sales Manager Nairobi Region ……………………. confirms the new Stihl power tools will increase the level of agriculture mechanisation in the East African region for the preparation of land and the subsequent planting and harvesting.

“We have brought to the market agricultural machinery that can be used by one – to two-acre farmers, which is the broader base of agricultural producers in Africa to date.  The tools will have two major impacts on agricultural production which includes cost savings and improvements in quality and efficiency,” he added.

East Africa is dominated by smallholder production on farms of between 0.2 and 3 hectares, which account for 78 percent of total agricultural production and 70 percent of commercial production. Agricultural GDP is driven by horticulture and cash crops, but productivity is low, particularly for cereals.

As the report indicates, the level of mechanisation has a significant positive impact on the cost, output value, income and return rate of all types of crops. For every 1 percent increase in the level of mechanization, the yields of all crops, grain crops and cash crops increase by 1.2151, 1.5941 and 0.4351 percent, respectively.

“Our tools can perform the functions of levelling, land preparation, deep turning and deep scarification, which can improve land quality better than the traditional manual and livestock operation methods, especially in the transformation of medium- and low-yield fields.  Agricultural machinery can increase the degree of multiple cropping of cultivated land to provide the potential for multiple crop cycles per year, thus improving production capacity and land output rates Mechanical irrigation and drainage, dry farming machinery and mechanical spraying can effectively mitigate risks such as drought, floods, weeds and insect pests,” he explained.

Apart from mechanisation, other solutions include selling our products to a wide range of dealer network hence bringing them closer to the end-user while ensuring price control; offering dealers training on product information and application enabling them to transfer this knowledge to the end-user at point of sale. This can see farmers’ production and profitability more than double in the first year.