Fred Kironde is a farmer in Luweero District. He grows a variety of crops such as beans, cow peas and sunflower, among other crops.
In November 2017, Kironde bought a weeding machine to save on the costs of labour he was using to weed his beans gardens.
During the season, he would hire approximately five people to weed five acres of land. It would take them approximately a week to finish and he would pay each Shs8,000 per day.
“After buying the machine, I only spend Shs10,000 on fuel per day and the weeding work takes less than a week to get complete. The machine rarely breaks down and is fast,” Kironde explains.
How the weeding machine works
Douglas Opio, the Sales Manager at China North Machine along Jinja Road says the weeding machine is a simple and light six kilogramme unit that uses petrol fuel. On the farm, it is carried on your back like a backpack. “All you have to do is direct its blades to keep weeding.
When it is weeding, you control it yourself and direct the blades where there are weeds so that you do not affect or damage the crops,” Opio says.
In a space of one hour, Opio says the machine consumes approximately between 0.5 to 0.7 litres of fuel, and in a day, you can weed a minimum of three acres of land. For an operator who is energetic, you can weed up to five acres of land. “Operating it does not need a lot of power.
What this machine can do in one day is equivalent to the amount of work that can be done by 10 people on a garden in a day,” Opio states, adding that it also comes with low maintenance costs. Opio recalls that the weeding machine is new technology that was introduced in Uganda in October 2017.
For the time it has been on the market, he says the machine has made labour costs incurred by farmers cheap because one of the hard parts of farming is weeding, compared to expensive manpower.
“If you are to pay 10 farm workers, it is more costly compared to using this machine.
It simplifies work and makes everything on the farm unique. We do not only sell but we also train farmers on how to use it,” Opio stresses, explaining that it also comes with one year service warranty.
How to benefit
Opio advises that the best way to use this machine is to have your crops planted in rows or columns if you are to benefit from its use.
If you do not plant in rows, by the time of weeding at germination or any other stage, crops will mix with weeds and this makes the weeding exercise hard. And when your crops are planted in rows, it is all dependent on the operator to differentiate between crops and the weeds. The machine is designed in a way that blades keep in rotation mode.
It performs best in soils such as sand, loam and clay during the dry season. It is suitable for weeding crops such as beans, maize, groundnuts, and soybeans, among others.
Mechanically, Opio says the weeding machine is multi-purpose in that you can remove the weeding blade and connect the blade for harvesting crops such as rice, simsim and millet. At the same time, you can remove the weeding and harvesting blades and attach the one for slashing your compound.
Currently, on the local market, the machine with a weeding component is sold at Shs1.2m at China North Machine along Jinja Road in Kampala and other farm machine dealers. It is sold with a pair of blades, one on the left and the other on the right.
The harvesting and slashing blades are accessories that are bought separately but that is dependent on the customer’s interests.