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Turning tractors into hoes

Product analysis: the recycled hoe


The market
There were two hoes already on sale in the Migori area - one imported from China, and a copied version made in Nairobi. Both cost between 300 and 400 K sh (3-4). However, Peter Kariuku's market research suggested that people were unhappy with the shape and durability of these hoes and that there was a market for a new hoe among people in Migori and neighbouring towns. Since nearly everyone uses a hoe at some time, the potential market is big.

Technical specification
The hoe's blade is 150mm long and tapers from 150mm at the working end to 70mm where it is attached to the head. It is slightly concave, as people didn't like the square head of the Chinese version. The diameter of the pre-cast hole for the hoe head is 45mm. The handle is bought or made separately and fitted by the customer.

The recycled hoe costs between 200 and 300 K sh (about 2-3) and lasts for about five years.

Product function
The hoe is used to clear weeds during the growing season between December and April. It is mostly used on small plots of land and in larger fields. Mechanised farming methods are rare in Kenya.

The tractor discs that are used to make the hoe's blade are made from high-tensile steel. Peter pays between 250 and 400 K sh for a disc, and uses each one to make eight to ten blades. The heads are made from old hoe heads bought from local farmers and factories at a cost of 10 K sh (about 10p).

The tractor discs are measured, marked into segments and cut into blades with a grinding disc. The recycled heads are cut to size and welded to the pre-cut blades using a standard welding machine. The blade is sharpened by grinding and then sanded so that it is shiny on both sides.

Working at the Migori Tool Hire Centre Practical Action/Ian Capewell

The people making the hoes use standard safety procedures (they wear safety goggles, use a welding shield and wear ear protectors). The safety of the hoe in use depends on people being sensible when working their land.

Welding a head onto a new hoe blade Practical Action/Ian Capewell

Peter carried out market research and found that customers wanted a tapered, concave hoe blade, rather than a shaped one. He has discovered that some people who had bought a Chinese hoe have reshaped it in line with his design.

Although made from recycled materials, the hoes are ground and sanded to look as attractive as the other hoes on the market. However, Peter's research suggested that farmers are more concerned with durability and ease of use than with how good a hoe looks.

New Hoes Practical Action/Ian Capewell

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