Technology, snail products and pomp at Nairobi international trade fair

Wednesday March 18 2020
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Farming enthusiasts admire vegetables grown at the Kenya Seed Company stand during the just concluded Nairobi International Trade Fair organised by the Agriculture Society of Kenya. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG


The Nairobi International Trade Fair returned this year with fanfare, pomp and new technology. Hundreds of stalls have been put up at Jamhuri Showground showcasing steer auctions, dairy and beef cattle, sheep, goats and poultry.

There are also stands for research and new technology. It is the 118th edition of the Agricultural Society of Kenya fair. It registered 340 exhibitors from as far as southern Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, who opened the show on Wednesday, announced plans to hire young people in the food-security industry.

Technology at the fair

1. Multigrater
This is a simple machine used for chopping or grating fruits and tubers. David Chitayi, an engineer at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology is the brains behind the grater.

The machine grates fruits and tubers to allow faster drying. The grated fruit or tuber is then dispensed into a container.

“Conventionally, people chop cassava, potatoes or pumpkin before drying and milling them. However, you cannot do that if they are in bulk,” Mr Chitayi said.

The machine, which can grate up to 260 kilogrammes of cassava per hour, preserves the original taste and colour for more than six months. It is economical, using just 1.1KW of electricity per hour.

2. Fruit pulper

Also developed by JKUAT researchers is the pulper. It is used for making fruit purée. The pulper has been adopted by businesses in mango and orange-growing counties.

Chitayi says pulping fruits enhances their shelf life and makes transport easier. The machine can pulp more than 450 kilos of fruits per hour and is a modest consumer of electricity.

3. Snail cosmetics

Rearing snails for consumption and income is new in Kenya. JKUAT researchers have come up with value-addition avenues for the molluscs. Slime, which can be harvested to make cosmetics, has medicinal value, the researchers say.

Ivy Rosio, a student at JKUAT, says the African giant is the most preferred among the snail breeds in the country.

“It can be bred anywhere, as long as the temperature is low. Humidity should be high. It is important to provide the snails with water,” she explained, adding that the slime can be used to make face creams.

The awards

The 2019 Presidential National Farmers Competition Award Scheme winners
1. Women in Agriculture – Beth Wairimu Kinuthia (Nyandarua County)
2. Youth in Agriculture –Caroline Mukuhi (Kiambu)
3. Phyiscally Challenged in agriculture – Jonathan Keter Trans (Nzoia County)

Best stand categories

1. Best non-agricultural based statutory board stand - Athi Waterworks Development Agency.
2. Best stand in media services - Presidential Strategic Communication Unit.
3. Best regulatory authority and corporation stand - (Kephis).
4. Best stand displaying initiatives in provision of viable transport services - Kenya National Highways Authority.
5. Best local manufacturers stand –New KCC.
6. Best financial institution (other than bank) - Kenya Industrial Estate.
7. Best display and presentation insurance services – National Hospital Insurance Fund.