Technology improves soil fertility through green innovation

 

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In 2014, Brian Bosire  founded UjuziKilimo which in Swahili means “Knowledge farming." He was motivated by the struggles of his farming parents to raise school fees and at the same time deal with poor farm harvest each season; after investing a lot of time and money.

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“At the age of 19, I imagined of a simple device that my mother could stick into the soil and instantly know what crops could offer her maximum yield, what amount and type fertilizers she needed and best seed varieties in order to reduce the risks involved in traditional farming by trial and error” Brian says. My mother had already paid so much, with her own health, for straining too much and making mistakes every time she tried."

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Agriculture plays a significant role in Kenya’s economy accounting for 24% of Gross Domestic Product with over 80% of Kenya’s 46 million population depending on agricultural activities to improve their livelihoods and 75% operating much below average yields with 40% to 50% productivity levels. This is according to Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization report of 2017.

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KALRO report assert that, approximately 45% of Government revenue is derived from Agriculture and the sector contributes over 75% of industrial raw materials and more than 50 % of export earnings. A study done by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) shows that over 70% of all food is produced by rural small holders farmers embracing knowledge based farming and drifting from traditional farm practices in order to meet the demands of the burgeoning population. 

 

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UjuziKilimo founder Brian Bosire testing the soil PH and nutrient levels using an aid analytics kit/PHOTO/NETFUND

His innovation involves using sensors and aid analytics to provide precision farming technologies to small scale farmers to enable them embrace technology driven farming as a move to increase their yields and reduce risks of the farm.

The device uses light, temperature and ion selective sensors to detect and measure soil macronutrients. Sensors produce electrical signals that are conditioned to show exact amount of specific ions and (or) nutrients present in the soil sample by measuring soil PH, salinity, Nitrogen, phosphorus, Potassium and moisture.

The UjuziKilimo founder saw several gaps in the Kenyan Agricultural market including : lack of knowledge in Agricultural practices, need for new technology, lack of access to market information in terms of prices, buyers and markets, lack of accurate weather information, farmers financial exclusion and supply chain inefficiencies.

This has opened his perspective to  the over 400 Million African small holder farmers who rely on their guts to make critical farming decisions, most of these farmers have been locked in the poverty cycle due to lack of education, ignorance and even basic skills to enable them make their only economic activity productive. 

 

UjuziKilimo has created employment opportunities for six young people directly as employees and hundreds others as beneficiaries through providing Agri-Tec services to farmers in rural areas. There are more young people going into agriculture because of the opportunity presented by Agribusiness. Ujuzi Kilimo is happy to serve these young farmers who often have little experience and knowledge in the sector by providing the most needed information on input use, crop selection and best practices to enable them become successful.

UjuziKilimo has received Sh 1.3m as support from The National Environment Trust Fund (NETFUND), a state corporation under the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Regional Development Authorities. The support is in terms of refining the business through informative and hands on business coaching. NETFUND has also provided financial support geared towards furthering the production capacity of the technology and up scaling their services to reach 3000 farmers by the end of 2017. According to NETFUND’S monitoring and evaluation report of 2016, the company is set to reach 200,000 farmers in Kenya in the next 3 years. UjuziKilimo has been nominated for the Digital Inclusion Awards 2017 as the best Digital Agricultural solution provider courtesy of NETFUND.