AfricaRice, in partnership with the Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute (SLARI), organized a training workshop, 1-10 Feb 2017, in Lunsar, Port Loko District, Sierra Leone, to strengthen the capacity of the local manufacturers to fabricate the ‘ASI’ rice thresher, which is one of the important improved post-harvest technologies for rice in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
Manual rice threshing is common in SSA, where it is mainly carried out by women farmers. It is not only labor-intensive and back-breaking, but it also leads to heavy post-harvest crop losses. The ASI thresher was developed by AfricaRice and its partners to speed up post-harvest processes, produce a higher quality product, increase the marketability of local rice and lessen the burden of women.
At the Sierra Leone training workshop, two senior artisans, who were trained by AfricaRice in 2013 in Nigeria, coached five local fabricators, with technical support from the Africa Rice Mechanization Task Force focal point in SLARI, Mr Kemoh Bangura.
During the hands-on training, an ASI thresher was successfully constructed and tested at the workshop and all necessary technical adjustments were made. The thresher was subsequently tested at the Rokupr Agricultural Research Centre (RARC) in the presence of scientists, who were satisfied with the overall performance and output of the thresher.
The scientists found that the rice was well threshed with little or no grains remaining on the straw. They made several comments and recommendations which will be followed by the trained fabricators. The national media and SLARI communication unit were also invited to the ASI thresher testing session.
The training workshop was jointly supported by the Global Affairs Canada-funded project on “Support to Rice Research in Africa” and by the African Development Bank-funded project on “Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops in Africa (SARD-SC).”
Future activities will include a field trip to demonstrate the use of the ASI thresher to different stakeholders involved in the rice sector in Sierra Leone including extension agents, farmers’ organizations, rice processors’ organization, local fabricators, and rice traders.
Training of end-users, especially the youth, will be organized, on the use and maintenance of the thresher in the Rice Hubs and as service providers for farmers. The ASI thresher will also be evaluated for its gender-friendliness. The national media and SLARI communication unit will be invited to popularize the ASI thresher in Sierra Leone.
“It is expected that the training of local equipment manufacturers in the fabrication and out-scaling of this technology to the Rice Sector Development Hubs in Sierra Leone will enhance the timely execution of the threshing operation and substantially reduce post-harvest losses,” said Dr Olupomi Ajayi, AfricaRice Country Representative, Sierra Leone/ Rice Research Coordinator for Sierra Leone.
“The wide dissemination of the equipment will facilitate the involvement of private business in rice value chain activities and contribute to the creation of employment for the youth and women,” he added. “The use of the ASI thresher will also improve grain quality. This is very important as higher grain quality is a prerequisite for competitiveness against imports that cost Sierra Leone much valuable foreign exchange.”