Harvesting oil palm fruit bunches using the Mechanical Adjustable Harvesters (MAH)

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Blog post by Nabeel Adeyemi Program Coordinator (Value Chain Appropriate Technology), PIND

Palms for palm oil production can be found almost anywhere in Nigeria and is one of Nigeria’s agriculture value chains currently experiencing dramatic changes and interventions in the daily lives of farmers. In addition to being the most productive edible oil crop (10 times the next most productive), it is one of the last significant food crops that today generally is not mechanically harvested. It is estimated that about 500M US$ worth of palm oil is lost due to the inefficient harvesting practices currently being used worldwide. Traditional manual harvesting of palm oil – using a cutlass or sickle chisel – is extremely inefficient because of the heights to which palm trees grow, making access to the fruit difficult and awkward, which results in significant waste because of un-harvested fruit left behind. Traditional methods also pose a serious threat to life for the farmer due to the height of palm trees. Now due to the introduction of the Mechanical Adjustable Harvesters (MAH), harvesting oil palm fruits is now much easier, safer, and faster.

A typical palm fruit harvester can work through an oil palm plantation and harvest 80 – 100 bunches per day depending on height, terrain, season, and how well the palms are pruned. The current tool of the trade for palm fruit harvesters is either a cutlass with a climbing rope or a sickle attached to the end of a long adjustable pole. When the harvester identifies a ripe fruit, he maneuvers the sickle around the fruit bunch stalk and cuts it with a vigorous downward pull on the pole. Often, palm fruit harvesters leave fruits on short trees because of the difficulty of getting a clean cut and not damaging the tree. Harvesters earn between N4,000 – N5,000 daily.

The limitation of this traditional method of harvesting oil palm fruits affects the profitability of oil palm business amongst small holder plantations (less than 5 Hectares). The MAH is viewed as a revolutionizing tool to the oil palm fruit harvesting business. It has a 1.2 Hp, two-stroke petrol engine, with an extension pole that can reach palm trees up to 20 feet. The biggest advantage of the MAH is that palm fruit harvesters can harvest between 100 – 150 fruit bunches per day using less then 1 liter of petrol and earn up to N7,500 per daily. An optional attachment (chisel tool) is also available for palm trees below 6 feet tall.

The adjustable harvester demonstration at the National Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) in Benin City, Edo State, on January 28, 2015 saw The Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND) facilitate linkages between TEXAMACO,  a local dealer in STIHL mechanical products and palm oil sector stakeholders to improve the efficiency of not just harvesting of palm fruits, but of the palm oil sector as a whole.

For more info on PIND’s work in promoting the adjustable harvester in the Niger Delta, visit the PIND Website.

For further detail contact;

Appropriate Technology Programme, PIND or Nabeel Adeyemi at 08172401573. Market development Programme Blessing Allen-Adebayo 08172401553

For purchase details contact STIHL Distribution in Nigeria (TEXMACO 08035057075)


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