Kenya has approximately 5.5 million hectares of arable land, but only 17% is suitable for rain-fed agriculture. Only about 2% of Kenya’s arable land is irrigated, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. Irrigated farms are 90% more productive than rain-fed farms. And in the context of climate change, water scarcity and growing, hungry populations, irrigation is becoming a necessity. Efficient irrigation systems can substantially increase crop yields, resulting in improved livelihoods and greater food production through more efficient use of limited water resources and reduced risks associated with drought.
Synnefa is an agritech company that develops a low-cost greenhouse microclimate management system called Farmshield. Their system utilises commercially available low-cost sensors, powered by solar cells, to allow farmers to monitor the greenhouse’s conditions, including soil and ambient temperature, soil humidity, nutrient content and more. The data obtained from these sensors are analysed using machine-learning algorithms tailored to specific crops and taking into account weather and climate data to provide automated control of the farm, including irrigation and ventilation, as well as aiding farmers in optimising conditions for maximum yield. Greenhouse farming by itself leads to a ten-fold increase in production. Through smart greenhouses, Synnefa aims to further increase production and at the same time optimising water consumption and fertiliser use, thus increasing both yield and minimising costs.
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