In 1993, after completing his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination, David Burii’s dreams of pursuing engineering at a university were shattered due to financial constraints.
Undeterred, he embarked on a journey that would make him a revered innovator across Kenya and other parts of Africa.
Today, his revolutionary Jua Kali farm machines are transforming the agricultural landscape.
Burii’s early life was marked by challenges.
He dropped out of school and enrolled in a mechanic course at Nanyuki Polytechnic, not out of passion, but to secure a certificate.
While at the college, he honed his welding skills while working at a welding workshop. This seemingly unrelated experience would later prove to be a crucial stepping stone.
The spark of innovation ignited within Burii during his days at the workshop.
He observed the struggles faced by local farmers to access affordable machinery and the losses incurred due to inefficient grain drying methods.
These observations fueled his determination to create practical solutions.
In 2013, Burii’s dedication bore fruit as he unveiled his brainchild – the EasyDry 500.
This portable machine could dry 500 kilograms of grains in a mere three hours. The technology harnessed open concepts, powered by a small petrol engine that operated two fans.
These fans directed heat generated by burning maize cobs onto the suspended maize bed, reducing moisture content from 20 to 13.5 percent.
Burii’s invention wasn’t just about convenience and efficiency; it aimed to combat the pressing issue of aflatoxin contamination.
High moisture content in grains not only led to financial losses for farmers but also posed a serious health risk to consumers. According to tests conducted by AflaSTOP, the prototype of EasyDry 500 demonstrated a 77 percent reduction in aflatoxin, far surpassing traditional drying methods.
The success of EasyDry 500 quickly gained traction. Burii manufactured and sold these machines, not only locally but across Africa. Countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania embraced his innovation.
Additionally, Burii extended his service by offering maize drying for a fee, providing a practical solution to farmers who might not be able to afford the technology upfront.
“I also offer a service where I charge Sh200 to dry a bag of maize but most farmers don’t understand why they should pay this much. But if you look at the cost of drying maize in the open air for an average of two weeks when the farmer takes them out every day, the labour costs are too high,” he says.
Burii’s contributions extended beyond his immediate success. His business flourished, expanding from a staff of two in 2017 to twenty employees today.
Mr Burii has built 70 units and sold 23 of them. It costs at least Sh70,000 to manufacture one machine, with each going for Sh90,000.
This growth aligns with his vision of providing employment opportunities for the local youth. He remains committed to not just innovation but also to community service.
Burii’s partnership with the Laikipia Development and Innovation Program (LIDP) and the County Enterprise Fund further boosted his enterprise. Funding, certification, and marketing support helped him overcome challenges he previously faced. By showcasing his products at trade fairs, Burii ensured that his innovations reached a wider audience.
Currently, Burii’s focus is on developing a motorcycle-engine operated mower for hay harvesting. T