Shelling maize need not be a tough task

Friday October 24 2014
Gold Maize Sheller b.JPG

Tobias Adhiambo in Kisumu shows how the maize sheller works. PHOTO | JACOB OWITI |


The medium-sized machine made a loud cracking noise as it gobbled several maize cobs the operator, Tobias Adhiambo, had placed in one of its compartments.

It took seconds for the petrol-run machine to separate the maize from the cobs.

While the maize went into a gunny bag placed on an outlet on the left side of the machine, the cobs fell on the ground.

In two minutes, the machine, known as a maize sheller, had completed processing a 90kg bag.

The sheller was on display at a recent agricultural exhibition at Tom Mboya Labour College in Kisumu.

“Many farmers employ several people to shell maize with bare hands, which is a labour-intensive exercise. But here is a machine that does that work in seconds,” Adhiambo said of the machine his organisation bought from a workshop in Eldoret.


The officer, who works with Animal Draft Power Programme Organisation, a community-based institution in Homa Bay County, as a Senior Agronomist in-charge of Staple Food Training, cautions that one must ensure the maize is moisture-free to use the grinder.

“If the grain has moisture, it becomes difficult to grind it as it will stick onto the grinder affecting the sheller,” he said.

The speed of the grinder can be adjusted, Tobias says.


The machine, according to Adhiambo, shells a 90kg bag of maize in about two minutes.

“The speed can be increased, but two minutes is a reasonable time. The shelling kit is easy to install, remove and re-attach in case of repair or when cleaning. It works with most engines.”

He said that three litres of petrol shell 20 to 30 90kg bags of maize.

The community organisation acquired the machine and two others with the help of Feed the Future, a US Agency for International Development initiative under the Kenya Agricultural Value Chain Enterprises Project.

The machines go for between Sh50,000 and Sh60,000 depending on the speed and capacity.

The cheapest tractor drawn maize sheller goes for an average of Sh150,000. Therefore, the petrol-run machine is ideal for the small farmer.

“One of the three machines we have can shell a bag in 10 minutes, another one in five minutes and this one in two minutes. We also have a sorghum thresher as well.”

The organisation shells maize for farmers at Sh100 per 90kg bag. “Farmers have shown interest in the technology because it eliminates the burden of hiring people to shell maize, saving time and money.”

The officer said that the machine can be a source of income for the farmer.

“The maize sheller is a useful tool to both small-scale and large-scale farmers. It is portable, easy to operate and maintain, making it affordable for the small farmer,” he said.

Albert Mwaura, a technician who runs Mawigu Machinery in Eldoret, which fabricates the sheller, said the machine helps small-scale farmers process their produce faster.

“We make petrol and diesel-powered machines. The one using petrol goes from Sh50,000 to Sh60,000 while the diesel one from Sh60,000 to Sh70,000. The petrol one is the most popular.”

The gadgets can be acquired from several farm machinery dealers across the country.