In Africa’s Sahel region, new technology is helping with the task of harvesting rice. Experts say the difficult manual labor of threshing and cleaning the grain is done mostly by women and can damage their health. They also say the new method produces higher quality rice and increases profits. The new system was developed by the Africa Rice Center, working with the Senegalese government and other parties. They have created a rice thresher well suited to conditions in the Senegal River Valley, designed to improve the livelihoods of the rural poor. Gaston Sangare is a research farm operations manager with the Africa Rice Center (WARDA) based in Cotonou, Benin. He says the thresher is very useful for small-scale farmers.
He says it takes much less time than hand threshing and can thresh up to six tons a day, as opposed to one ton a day by hand. Sangare also says the thresher is 99% efficient in separating grain from straw, and the labor cost is much lower when compared to other kinds of threshers. He says two people can operate the thresher, as opposed to five or ten people operating imported threshers. He also says the purchase price of five to six thousand dollars is low compared to that of imports.
Sangare says small-scale farmers can get a government loan for the thresher or they can get one from a local contractor. He says the farmer can repay the loan in installments based on profits from the sale of the rice. Sangare says the thresher being used in Senegal is also available in the Sahel countries of Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire, and the number of threshers is increasing year by year.