Firm tasks farmers to embrace use of combined harvesters to avert food losses

Wheat and rice farmers in Nigeria have been urged to embrace the use of combined harvesters to avoid in-harvest food losses amid insufficient production.

Combined harvesters are able to cut and thresh both rice and wheat instantaneously, and capable of harvesting one acre in less than one hour.

In its efforts to boost grain farmers’ productivity, an agricultural technology firm, RiceAfrika, has resolved the age-long harvest challenge of small-scale rice and wheat farmers in the country through shared infrastructure.

The motivation for the solution, the firm said, was driven by the passion to reduce the drudgery and harvest-time losses associated with manual harvesting, saying, “It is a wasteful, time-consuming, expensive and tedious activity to harvest rice or wheat manually.”

Founder of the platform, Ibrahim Maigari Ahmadu emphasized that harvesting one acre of land would require about 30 people for over 15 hours with sickles, but harvesters would do the harvesting in less than one hour.

Ahmadu said the hiring service providing the harvesters is now operational in Nigeria with plans to roll out in Tanzania, Senegal and Madagascar, adding that “Our objective is crystal clear – Using technology to improve rice production in Africa.”

He said: “In the past year, we discovered a major pain point shared by over 90 per cent of rural rice farmers in Nigeria, which is manual harvesting.”

“We got into action and found a reputable manufacturer in China, and ordered a few modern, eco-friendly easy-to-use harvester machines, customised to our local weather and terrain.”

But to avoid negatives of introducing technologies in harvesting rice, Ahmadu said: “Knowing that mechanisation means killing manual harvesting labour jobs, we invested in training youths of many rice communities to become harvester operators, mechanics, and booking agents.”

Country Head, RiceAfrika Nigeria, Ifeoluwa Olatunji, also explained that: “It is so inspiring to see rural rice farmers hiring our harvesters. Youth of rice communities (mostly manual laborers on rice farms) are now employed as operators, mechanics, and booking agents.”

“We provide training on harvester operations and maintenance, as well as, assign trained and certified operators for harvester owners (employing the many we are training).”

Farmers with no cash for the service could also pay with equivalent of paddies, enough to pay for hired services based on pre-agreed terms.

“Interestingly, our harvesters are fitted with IoT devices enabling us to track location, fuel consumption, speed, and control the harvester operations from our office in Lagos.”


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