The Agricultural Mechanization arena in Kenya is dominated by MSPs who are highly experienced in ploughing. However, they mostly do only ploughing, are nomadic and tend to do a lot of fast and low-quality work. Being nomads, they are able to keep their tractors occupied some 8 months a year. This however means that they have to traverse the country and stay away from their families2. Nomadic MSPs are unable to acquire other implements like harrows, planters, sprayers etc. because these are not practical for their on-the-go way of working. These other implements and equipment are heavy, complicated or unaffordable. Typically, an MSP will be able to acquire a tractor on loan from a bank, using its logbook as the security. The same MSP wanting a loan for an implement will be unable to purchase it. This is because the same bank will not be able to secure an implement which has no log-book (or even a serial number) and is “movable”.
Agrimech has learnt much from experience and understands the challenges of MSPs form first hand experience. Agrimech knowledge about the challenges of MSPs is captured in reports like those from the FACASI project and MSP workshops that the company has conducted under GIZ (NuSePP project) support. Agrimech knows how unfortunate it is, that the experience and resilience of MSPs is not better exploited or supported. MSPs need implements that are not (destructive) ploughs. They need the training on how to use CA equipment, to help protect the lands of clients with quality work. With more work options MSPs will be more sedentary, work-efficient and accountable for quality work. They will be able to stay near home and be accountable to deliver quality work to new and familiar clientele.
Agrimech knows that effective utilization of mechanization and training for the same can only happen under experienced hands with front-line and hands-on experience. Agrimech will therefore establish and utilize model farms as grounds for extending her experience. The company will offer Hub services in form of Equipment Banks. The Banks will be located at selected host (medium scale) farms. Agrimech will make a land hire or profit-sharing deals with the land owners as hosts and model farmers. The model farms may extend beyond the Hub’s host-farm, to neighborhood farms, to create a crucial size of land under observable, successful mechanization practice. The model farms will be used for business farming as well as training grounds for MSPs, Extension Agents, work aggregators (software platform Booking Agents), leaders, farmers and other stakeholders.
It is the success of these farms that will be used to encourage value-chain partnership formation and the community of practice that will utilize mechanization, to grow produce for identified markets.
The majority of Agrimech Directors are Agricultural Engineers of great repute. The engineers have trained in the utilization of agricultural power and machinery for many years. Where training of tractor operators by tractor vendors stops (probably based on a given tractor brand), Agrimech training starts. Agrimech training is holistic and goes beyond the tractor to the implement, the soil, the operation and the business the tractor fits into. The Agrimech training deals not only with tractor components like the power-train, cooling system, electric or hydraulic system etc. The training goes on to the use of implements, under topical subjects like tractor-implement power matching, implement adjustments, calibration of planters - be they air, pneumatic (precision) or mechanical, use of various sprayers, CA equipment and more.
Specialized equipment such as those for potato and other tubers, seedling trans-planters (for rice or vegetables) and many other topics.
Agrimech training in CA and mechanization for Climate Smart Agriculture are areas of great new demand. This training goes into no-till and strip till operations (minimum soil disturbance), soil-health and micro-organism protection (cover, green-manure and mulch and crop rotations) and critical subjects like crop-livestock integration. Agrimech Training style is based around knowledge (the what), attitude (the why) and practice (the How). Agrimech training has been supported by GIZ and specialists from PUM of the Netherlands, leaving many accolades and calls for more by beneficiaries.
Agrimech may be called upon to train within mechanization service programmes or projects, be it in operational or management-support perspectives. The company is able to work as the Manager cum Trainer partner to any mechanization services provision project. Agrimech is also able to establish and back-up the repair and maintenance service needs of any mechanization service project.