Manual rice threshing is labor-intensive and back-breaking and is mainly carried out by women farmers in many parts of Africa. Moreover, manual rice threshing causes post-harvest losses of up to 35%.
In response to these challenges, an improved rice thresher was developed by AfricaRice and its partners. The ASI thresher mechanically separates the rice grains from the panicle without damaging the grains. It has high threshing capacity, low fuel costs, and can be manufactured locally.
ASI reduces labor requirements, particularly for women, speeds up post-harvest processes, produces a higher quality product with less grain damage and increases the marketability of local rice.
The threshing capacity of ASI is 6-7 t of paddy rice per day. With a grain-straw separation rate of 99%, ASI does not require additional labor for sorting and winnowing. The winnowed grains can be bagged directly from the machine.
ASI thresher is being used in 19 African countries. More than 50 per cent of the total paddy produced in Senegal is threshed with the ASI. An impact study shows that producers are making an average gain of UD$53 per hectare by replacing traditional threshing technology with ASI thresher. Recently a mini ASI (multiple crop thresher) has also been developed for women.
Artisans in several African countries have been trained in the manufacturing and operation of ASI. For example, as part of the SARD-SC project in Nigeria, youths were trained in the use of the ASI (known as ATA in Nigeria) thresher and were given the threshers to provide threshing services to farmers. Over 500 ASI/ATA threshers were manufactured by small and medium enterprises (SMEs), involving youth, and were sold in the beneficiary countries.
Recognizing ASI as one of the most important improved post-harvest technologies in Africa, AfricaRice team and its partners received the Presidential Prize for Science in Senegal in 2003.
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