AgroBIG has been piloting affordable farm technologies developed by Aybar Engineering PLC in Addis Ababa. These tailored implements have been availed by the Programme to target districts for testing and demonstration, and have been found to save farmers’ time, energy and money. The technologies also help to reduce negative environmental impacts, while increasing crop productivity and quality.
The Berken plow has a number of advantages over the traditional oxen-drawn maresha plow. Crucially, it avoids the need for repeated cross plowing of the land. Apart from reducing work load, the use of the Berken also prevents top soil erosion, which can be excessive when traditional tilling with up to nine plowing rounds is applied. It also penetrates deeper, thereby breaking the soil hardpan and stimulating crop root growth, while providing efficient weed control and improving water infiltration.
The improved Aybar potato digger is an implement used for harvesting potatoes. It causes less damage to the tubers, as compared to the maresha plow traditionally used for potato harvesting. It also increases the potato yield mainly because less tubers are buried in the soil thanks to the sieve action of the implement. Moreover, the digger harvests more potatoes in one pass than the traditional plow does.
The rice planter and associated furrow opener enable the planting of rice seeds in five rows (3-5cm depth) at a time. This reduces the time needed to manually plant rice in rows using the traditional plowshare. The planter also facilitates the precise application of fertilizer at the required volume at same time as rice seeds are planted, consequently increasing yields. The neat rows crucially enable the use of a rotary weeder at later stages, which has practical implications especially for women, who are generally engaged in laborious manual weeding.
It is hoped that commercial demand for these simple yet effective farm technologies is created through the field days organized by AgroBIG. Farm services, especially use of the rice planter, can be managed by landless youth groups who could thus generate a complementary income.