News and knowhow for farmers

Technology enables farmer harness power of ‘green farming’

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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.

Re­lated art­icle:  Soil test­ing im­prov­ing farm­ers out put

“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.”

Re­lated art­icle: Soil­Cares mo­bile soil lab gives farm­ers res­ults in three hours

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.

Re­lated art­icle: Reg­u­lar soil test­ing in­forms farm­ers of re­quired min­er­als

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 aids to 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.

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