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February 19, 2019

Top farming innovations

Greenhouse sensor
Greenhouse sensor

Greenhouse controlled using a mobile phone

Two students, Taita Ng’etich and Brian Bett, from the University of Nairobi have built a device that enables farmers to control their greenhouse using a mobile phone remotely.

Built from local material, the Illuminum greenhouse is fitted with sensors that monitor temperature, humidity and soil moisture, and sends text messages to farmers alerting them to any changes they need to make to conditions inside.

The whole unit is run on solar power and the irrigation system can be turned off and on by text message, optimising water use and reducing waste, which is one of the main expenses for farmers.

The idea to include sensor technology came from conversations with their customers. Eight out of 10 farmers said they struggle to manage water use. The innovation has earned them top prize in the Nairobi finals of the Seedstars competition, and the second best start-up in the world in the smart farmer category during the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. The Illuminum team has received seed funding to scale up the technology this year.

– The Guardian


Rice-fish farming boosts family income, nutrition

Rice-fish farming, which is mainly practised in Asian countries, involves the introduction of fish into the rice fields.

The fish thrive in the dense rice plants and are safely hidden from the birds while they provide fertiliser with their droppings, eat pests and help to circulate oxygen around the rice field. According to FAO, the cultivation of most rice crops in irrigated, rainfed and deepwater systems offers a suitable environment for fish and other aquatic organisms.

Over 90 per cent of the world’s rice, equivalent to approximately 134 million hectares, is grown under these flooded conditions providing not only home to a wide range of aquatic organisms, but also offering opportunities for their enhancement and culture. “Pest management in rice has evolved tremendously over the past decades, and the culture of fish and other aquatic organisms can reinforce environmentally and economically sound farming practices,” a FAO review report states.

The real and potential impact of rice-fish farming in terms of improved income and improved nutrition is significant but generally underestimated and undervalued.

“There is global recognition of, and interest in, the potential of rice-fish farming in helping combat malnutrition and poverty,” says the report.

– Agencies

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