Illuminium Greenhouses co-founders have earned Kenya the 2016 Ericsson Innovation award for sub-Saharan Africa, that came with a token of $10,000.
Taita Ngetich and Brian Bett were recognised for their smart greenhouse concept that uses sensors and mobile technology.
They created a greenhouse with sensors that monitor temperature, humidity and soil moisture, and regulate the supply of water channeled through drip-lines. The sensors are connected to farmers' mobile phones.
The system self-regulates soil moisture by irrigating when necessary and measuring the amount of water used.
This data is pushed to a cloud system via SMS or GPRS, and analysed by the team to provide predictive information on proper water management.
The innovators said this helps farmers save up to 60 per cent on their water bills.
”Our team is extremely proud to have won this award. It will enable the internet of things to further penetrate and reach the base of pyramid farmers across the region, Ngetich said during the ceremony at Ericsson's Nairobi office on Wednesday.
"Water management is key to agriculture across sub-Saharan Africa... We are happy that we can play a role in this by minimising wastage using solar-powered sensors."
This year’s competition, whose theme was 'Future of Food', attracted 99 entries from thirteen countries across the region.
Applications on ICT solutions for the agriculture sector were submitted by innovation hubs, universities, start-ups and SMEs.
Ericsson Kenya managing director Aakaash Sehgal noted that the winner's innovation concerned the matter of water scarcity.
"[This uses] cloud and mobile technology, cornerstones of Ericsson’s technology leadership," said Sehgal.
The winners were also rewarded with an entry into the Ericsson Global Innovation Awards set for early next year.