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Ugandan farmers embrace automated irrigation system


An enterprising Ugandan youth has developed an automated irrigation system that helps busy farmers in monitoring and irrigating farms at the touch of a button at a time when technology advancement in the continent is on a rise with latest statistics indicating a growth in internet penetration of up to 21 percent from 10 percent in 2010.

The team under the umbrella of Fundi bots aims to offer technological solutions in solving day to day challenges.  “As Fundi bots we focus so much on the mechanical and electronic computer mechanization. We all have a background in computer science knowledge and therefore with funding from strategic donor groups, we have decided to employ our skills in provision of solutions to agriculture, health and security issues in the country,” explained Victor Kawaga from Fundi bots.

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The team’s innovations are more of client originated because they provide solutions to certain challenges in society. Kawagga added, “We develop innovations that are demanded and requested by the clients rather than developing innovations and forcing them down on clients. By so doing, they are able to get quicker approval and adoption of their innovations from the users.”

Their latest technology which is an automated irrigation system was requested by an agricultural non for profit organization which wanted to enhance and deepen agricultural practice among the working class and other people who are involved in other commitments.  The client wanted to highlight to the people that agribusiness can be undertaken even when one is involved in other commitments of life. The client wanted to also empower people that farming can be done throughout the year through consistent irrigation and therefore the team embarked on a marathon work in the lab to come up with the first prototype in three months.

Fundi bots developed a system that is connected to the water source mainly the tank. The system is then set manually for the time of irrigation to take place. This should be the time when the evaporation is minimal in the atmosphere. The system is powered by a small solar panel that carters for the areas where there is no power connection.  The system will then check the moisture level in the soil with the help of its sensors and if it’s low the irrigation will then commence. After the completion of the irrigation process, the system will send a notification to the farmer with details from the process. In case it has rained, the system will not trigger the irrigation process because the sensors will detect the moisture in the soil. However, the system will send a notification to the farmer indicating the moisture level in the soil.

According to Kawagga the technology is meant for small scale low income farmers and therefore the pricing is expected to be minimal after the successful trialing in various farms around Uganda. The system can irrigate a maximum of 4 acres and is said to be ideal for farmers who are practicing drip irrigation or green house farming.

Over 50 farms are trialing the technology. Most of the farmers who are already trialing the product are pooled from Northern Uganda. “This is the region where our client’s activities are concentrated. We have good response from most farmers although we are now aggregating their feedback in order to make the best final technology that will soon be commercialized,” explained Kawagga.

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