Innovate UK, in partnership with Brunel University London and UK-based Innvotek, have provided a grant funding worth $856,000 to three Kenyan start-ups in the agri-tech industry – Illuminum Greenhouses, WeFarm, and Juhudi Kilimo, to develop solar powered smart sensors with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology, which is the first of its kind in Africa.
About Innovate UK
Innovate UK is the UK innovation agency that links up businesses with the customers, partners, and investors who are likely to help the businesses to turn their ideas into successful products and services, which can them be commercialised and in turn, leads to business growth. Besides, it also provides fund to business and research collaborations to foster innovation and propel business investment into research and development. Innovate UK partnered with the duo of Brunel University London and UK-based Innvotek to provide this huge amount of money as a grant to the tripartite coalition of the agri-tech start-ups to work on this novel development in Africa.
The aim and prospects of SmartGFA
The project, named SmartGFA, serves as hotbed for experts to come together in combining their technical knowledge of advanced sensors, machine learning analytics, and the needs of the Kenyan farmers, to develop a cost-effective greenhouse microclimate monitoring and management system. This novel system, sponsored by Innovate UK and others, will make use of soil sensors, weather and climate conditions, to devise and optimise highly efficient irrigation and environmental conditions’ system for some sets of crops.
Moreover, the system will deeply analyse information provided by the soil sensors, weather conditions as obtained from the on-line service providers, and climate information based on the weather patterns. It will subsequently merge the obtained information with the specific crop needs of Kenyans to determine the best watering pattern. Thereby, increasing crop health and yield to maximum and in the same vein, minimising fertilizer and water consumption.
Furthermore, this system will allow farmers to achieve high yield greenhouse farming at a less expensive cost, increases their food security, and helps the smallholder farmers to scale up from subsistence farming to cash crops farming.
Remarks by the beneficiaries
On his part, the CEO of Illuminum Greenhouses said, “Working with experts from UK and Kenya and having Innovate UK support us move our solution from prototype to market entry is a testament that local Kenyan innovation can compete globally and receive assistance with partnerships that catapult them to the digital era.”
His counterpart from Innvotek, Shahid Mughal, said, “At Innvotek, we have an appetite for innovation and are constantly pushing the boundaries of technological advancement. We are keen on bringing our AI, machine learning and user interface development expertise to this project to develop a novel solution that we hope, will lead to significant increases in the production capacity for low-income, smallholder farmers in Africa and enhance UK’s competitiveness in the agricultural sector.”
From all us at Woleth Enterprise, we are happy about this recent development and therefore, felicitate with the beneficiaries and Africa at large. Many thanks to Innovate UK and others for making this groundbreaking invention a thing to watch out for in Africa. We believe in you and look forward to receiving more good news from you.