Three innovative young Kenyans, Hansel Wangara, Elizabeth Onyango and Brenda Awuor, have come up with ingenious vertical gardening setups that are bound to inspire more interest in urban farming.
Through their company, Ukulima Tech, the trio design, fabricate, install and maintain unique farming systems that maximize on the usage of space, without compromising on the quantity and quality of harvests.
One of their products, for instance, a multi-level structure provides nearly eight times more growing area than single level greenhouse or traditional farming systems.
“This compact design enables farming in areas that are traditionally underutilized farming,” Mr. Wangara told Farmbiz Africa.
In addition to providing for mess-free farming, especially in urban residential living spaces, like apartments, Ms. Onyango says their vertical gardens allow for more crop rotations per year than conventional farming systems.
“ Crop cycles are also faster due to the systems’ controlled temperature, humidity, daylight hours optimisation and use of growing lights to extend daily plant growth durations. The systems can produce market grade produce of several crops within just 21 days,” Ms. Onyango said.
Their innovations operate in the form of closed growing systems with controlled transpiration losses, hence using only 10 per cent of the water required for open field farming and around 20% less water than that used in conventional hydroponics.
“The water is directly channelled to the plant roots where it is needed for growth,” Ms. Awuor said. This is in addition to technologies incorporated into the system to manage watering remotely using mobile phones.
And to products are priced low as they seek to encourage more activity in the urban farming space.
A vertical farm with four rows that are 1.8m in length, allowing for the cultivation of 35 plants costs KSh14,500, a charge that includes the installation charges, liquid fertilizer and state taxes.
A tower garden, with a capacity of 26 plants, costs KSh13,920.