It is without doubt that the key to reshaping the agricultural sector in the continent is to come up with innovative, low-cost technologies- especially in the rural parts of Africa where buying large scale agricultural equipment proves to be difficult.
This challenge is what led the team from Makarere University’s Agricultural Research Institute in Uganda to invent a multi-purpose tractor that not only pumps water for irrigation, but also ploughs fields, transports farm produce, threshes maize and can charge mobile phones.
Dubbed MV Mulimi, the three-wheel machine is the result of a combination of wood and steel, with five compartments specifically made for all its functions. Conveniently made to make the farming process time efficient, the tractor has the capacity to carry one and half tons of agricultural produce and it is also economical on petrol.
As with any other project that involves re-inventing a product, Dr Nicholas Kiggundu of the college of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) admits that the journey has not been without hardships and criticism. “It seems people feel better if they hear that this product was made from abroad,” he says, “even some of our students were not convinced that the vehicle would work … during tests, we had to make them use the vehicle to show them that it would work.”
MV Mulimi has received government funding as well as support from the private sector, making it possible for the product to be available on the market soon. So far, the team has produced two fully-functioning tractors.
“As Makerere University, we have demonstrated that with seed financing, we can come up with practical innovations that solve real-world challenges,” concludes Prof John Ddumba-Ssentamu, the university’s vice chancellor.
This is proof that no amount of criticism can deter you from making a difference in your country through innovation with the right determination. We live in a world that requires us to imagine, dream big and go out of our way to make those dreams a reality- don’t you dare wait for someone else to validate your dreams for you. African child, it is possible! Well done to the MV Mulimi team.