The future of farming lies in the technological innovations providing solutions to our current food systems. In Africa, approximately 80-90% of farmers rely on manual labour. Nevertheless, new AgTech technologies and mechanization are changing the agricultural landscape.
To address labour shortages, counter the use of outdated farming machinery, and shorten the time needed to complete some farm tasks, SaYeTECH, a Ghana-based startup founded by Jeffrey Appiagyei and Theodore Ohene is helping rural smallholder farmers increase their productivity after harvest, They do so using the their multi-thresher device during threshing, a process of mechanically separating seeds from the harvested plants, Farmers are often forced to employ temporary workers to help them thresh seed crops, which usually takes days or even weeks to complete.
In 2021, SaYeTECH emerged winners of the coveted Pitch AgriHack Competition under the early stage category. The team invested the cash award towards scaling their operations and today they have a large clientele in Ghana.
Earlier this year, Theodore Ohene hosted the Generation Africa team at their assembly plant in Ghana and shared the intricacies of his multi-thresher innovation. Specifically, he focused on how it is assembled, how it works, and its impact on smallholder farmers. The Generation Africa secretariat was represented by Ms. Sophie Nabuliri, Program Coordinator and Ms. Amanda Namayi, GoGettaz Lead.
SAYeTECH’s flagship product, the multi-thresher ST-6000 reduces the time it takes to thresh an acre of cereal farm using manual labour from 2 weeks to less than 2 hours. This relieves workers (mostly women and children) from the drudgery of threshing by beating with sticks, allowing children in particular to concentrate on their studies. The thresher is 60 times faster than manual threshing, maintains grain quality by reducing aflatoxin contamination from grain to ground contact, and reduces seed damage, enabling farmers to sell high quality produce. They also save money on labour, increasing household incomes.
Farmers pay for SAYeTECH’s mechanised threshing services either in cash or in grain collected as payment. This grain is later supplied to the grain market during the planting season when grains are out of season, thereby enhancing food security.
The startup target clients comprise smallholder farmers, commercial farmers, agricultural machinery service providers, food processors, crop aggregators, government agricultural agencies, and donor agencies for social impact. Farmers are targeted for direct thresher services, while the rest of the clientele are targeted for grain sales.
In terms of future innovation, “A small amount of diesel is required to power the engine of the thresher. We are working towards introducing a solar-powered multi-crop thresher to ensure the energy supply is sustainable”, says co-founder Theodore Ohene.
Ultimately, a lack of mechanization perpetuates poverty cycles. Because manual labor reduces productivity and household incomes, it limits farmers’ access to modern technologies. It is therefore crucially important for stakeholders to promote adoption of innovative affordable solutions that are contributing towards food and nutrition security.