Hey hey hey.
Last week’s trip to Babati was educational, but just spawned a lot more questions.
We had arranged to visit our two testers in Singe, but on arrival, we found out they were busy at a political rally. (The general election is in October.) We met with our other customer in Galapo. So far, he’s happy with the bicycle maize sheller he rented from us, but he’s still waiting for his maize to dry more before shelling it all. He tested it once and shelled one gunia (~100kg) in a little under an hour. Apparently his children did most of the shelling, and to them it was a game. Maybe after an hour or more of shelling, the novelty will wear off, but this does support our assumption that the bicycle allows a broader range of people to shell maize. As far as I know, kupiga shelling is typically done by adult men because of the physical strength required. The children were at school when we arrived, so I’m hoping to speak with them next time we visit.
I learned that more farmers than I originally thought might be using motorized shelling services. Our customer in Galapo told us that at this time of year, someone constantly travels around the village with a motorized sheller and anyone with more than five acres of maize is likely to pay 1,300tsh per gunia to have his/her crop shelled. To me, this seems like a large expense since we’ve been told the sale price for a gunia of maize starts around 50,000tsh. But he explained that the cost is acceptable because it saves time that farmers need for taking care of other crops. His farm is around 6 acres, and he’s planning to use the bicycle sheller for all of his harvest. Most other farmers we’ve spoken with have closer to 2 acres. What is clear to me is that I have a lot more research to do before I can nail down a good profile of our target market.
In other news, I'm starting to get some parts manufactured to sell bicycle maize sheller kits at the Nane Nane festival. I'll post more details soon.