DeKUT Partners with the County Government of Laikipia to Design and Develop an Automated Industrial Maize Dryer to be used in Food Value Addition
Dedan Kimathi University of Technology and the County Government of Laikipia have partnered to lay emphasis on designing and manufacturing machines to be used in food value addition processing using the maize dryer. The Automated Industrial Maize Dryer has been developed to address the challenges encountered during traditional sun-drying and the associated aflatoxin contamination.
Maize is the principal staple food of Kenya, and it is grown in 90 percent of all Kenyan farms. However, the wider utilization of maize towards addressing food and nutrition security in Kenya has been hindered by concerns regarding the presence of aflatoxins. Some of the critical factors associated with fungal growth and increased risk of aflatoxin production in maize include inadequate traditional sun-drying and storage conditions. Furthermore, spreading maize on bare ground to sundry brings them in direct contact with soil fungal inoculums.The maize dryer has been designed to efficiently and effectively dry maize to safe moisture content levels.
To transfer knowledge to a local manufacturer, Laikipia County identified the Mwireri Engineering Workshop located in Nanyuki, Laikipia Count, as a strategic partner to work closely with Dedan Kimathi University of Technology engineers through DeKUT Enterprises Company to deliver the product. The aim was to impart knowledge to employees working with Mwireri Engineering Workshop. To achieve the objective, Mwireri Engineering Workshop and DeKUT Enterprises Company formed a joint venture to design, produce, supply, deliver, install, test, and commission the three maize driers at Sipili, Kinamba, and Mutanga in Laikipia West.
The Maize dryer, which was officially launched today by the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Education, Prof. George Magoha, supports a maximum 6 tons per hour grain drying capacity, 13% moisture content, with a revolutionary solar pre-drier section that significantly cuts down on fuel consumption thus reducing the equipment operating costs.
The project is among several other initiatives that the University has partnered with the County Government of Laikipia. Some of these partnerships include;
- In 2019, the University trainedat least 100 managers from Laikipia County on project management and budgeting.
- In 2020, the University partnered with Laikipia County to train innovators in the mass production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to help combat the spread of COVID-19 through mass production of ventilators and hand sanitizers.
- In 2021, the University partnered with the County Government of Laikipia to produce local vehicles, the BJ-50 TukTuk, which currently has been approved by the Kenya Bureau of Standards and Registered by the National Transport and Safety Authority.
Others present during the launch include; Governor Laikipia County, Ndiritu Muriithi, Vice Chancellor, DeKUT, Prof. Ndirangu Kioni, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Prof. Esther Magiri among others.