How Makerere University’s Pedal-Operated Seed Cleaner Machine Innovation is Benefiting Farmers

Submission Category: 

Although post-harvest handling processes such as drying, threshing and storage have progressed among small scale farmers in developing countries, there are still low levels of technological interventions to address seed cleaning after harvest in Uganda. 

This leads to high costs of production due to the amount of time taken in the cleaning process, which translates into low income for farmers.

Thanks to the Government of the Republic of Uganda through Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (RIF), Dr. Peter Tumutegyereize, a lecturer in the Department of Agricultural and Bio Systems Engineering, Makerere University, is leading a project to assess the effect of access on the use of improved cleaning technologies for seeds, compared to drying, threshing, and storage technologies among key farmers in Kamuli district, Uganda. 


The project is titled: A Pedal-Operated Seed Cleaner (PoS-Cleaner) to Boost Post Harvest Grain and Legume Quality, Increase School-Study Time, and Create Financial Freedom in Rural-Uganda”.

The project team, which includes students, has been able to distribute five pedal-operated seed cleaning machines to farmers in Kamuli district in eastern Uganda.

“Before this invention, farmers were taking more than five hours to clean one bag, but with this technology, one tone of seeds can be cleaned in less than one hour”, Dr. Tumutegyereize says with a smile on his face. 

He notes that the seed cleaner is able to clean over 500 kg/h of maize and 250 kg/h of beans, which are about five times higher than what can be achieved by the commonly used trays, baskets and sieves.

The Pedal-Operated Seed Cleaner is able to:

  1. Improve timely unit operations because it accomplishes the cleaning tusk in a timely manner
  2. Reduce postharvest handling losses 
  3. Reduce exposure to dust during the cleaning process.
  4. Reduce seed loss within the chaff

Besides the above advantages, Dr. Tumutegyereize notes that user of the technology is not exposed to dust like when using trays and baskets during the cleaning process.

Dr.Peter Tumutegyereize (2nd Right) explains how a pedal-operated seed cleaner works.

Other members who participated in this project

  1. Dr. Julia Kigozi (PhD)- CAES
  2. Mr. Isaac Oluk- Badaye Tech Ltd
  3. Mr. Ismael Mayanja- UC, Davis (USA)
  4. Mr. Wilber Akatuhurira- CAES
  5. Mr. Thomas Buyinza – ISU-UP
  6. Ms. Maureen Mbeiza -ISU-UP

Recommendations and way forward

It is important that as efforts to improve productivity with high yielding varieties continue, more attention should be put on developing and availing affordable technologies for the cleaning unit operation.

Technology flexibility in terms of portability is key in technology acceptance and use. Irrespective of the limited or no flexibility of the pedal operated seed cleaning machine in terms of movement from one household to another, farmers including both men and women, continue to carry their produce to where the machines are stationed for cleaning and back. This calls for the necessity of improved technologies for the cleaning unit operation. 

Although farmers can move to use the five machines that were distributed, Dr. Tumutegyereize says that there is a maximum distance beyond which a farmer with a given quantity of produce to be cleaned cannot exceed to access a technology for use given that farmers with quantities less than 200 kg were from within a radius of not more than 1 km from the seed cleaners’ host farmers, many other farmers with 200-800 kg are from within a radius of 1.5 to 2 km beyond the 1km radius. 

He adds that provided a technology is necessary, users will move to access and use it irrespective of its limited flexibility in terms of movement from one household to another

Technology use is greatly influenced by ownership, awareness and accessibility distance.There is need to empower the farmers to purchase the seed cleaner, relieving them of drudgery, time wastage, postharvest losses and disease susceptibility. If an expensive technology is available and farmers are aware, hire service may improve its use

You can watch the video below on how the Pedal-Operated Seed Cleaner works.


By Philimon Badagawa



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