Challenges African Farmers Face on a Daily Basis
Farmers throughout Africa face numerous problems when it comes to growing sustainable agriculture. These challenges include “unreliable rainfall, low crop yields, high energy costs, lack of access to modern farming technology and insufficient access to capital.” Additionally, in Kenya, there are 5.4 million hectares of cultivable land but only 17% of the land is suitable for agriculture.
Furthermore, this leaves the remainder of the land in demand of more irrigation and pumping technology. Also, to be an efficient farmer these days you need to have access to petrol, electric, and manual treadle pumps. But farmers throughout Africa are constrained by these technologies due to high input costs and labor incapabilities.
How SunCulture Plans to Tackle These Problems
The startup SunCulture, from Nairobi Kenya, is planning to solve these challenges by introducing the SunCulture AgroSolar irrigation system. This system works by combining the energy efficiency of solar power with drip irrigation. Using this method water is either dripped onto the soil surface above the roots, or directly to the root zone, reducing water evaporation.
According to SunCulture, this is the best solution for farmers because it is an affordable option for them. Additionally, other than it being cost-effective, farmers are able to grow higher quality crops and increase their yields by 300%, according to SunCulture.
How the AgroSolar Irrigation System Operates
The system is programmed to extract water from any source including lakes, rivers, streams, wells, etc. using solely solar power. Next, the power from the solar panels transfers the pump’s electricity directly without the need for batteries. The water is then collected into a water tank where it is stored.
After the water has been collected from the various water sources, the irrigation of the water to the crops is released in the evening. The valve on the water tank is opened and the water then flows through a filtration system and onto the crops through their irrigation hose.
Benefits that Come From Using the Irrigation System
According to SunCulture, there are many advantages to using this system. Farmers can save up to 20,000 KES monthly (approximately 174 euros) on fuel costs by using the included solar pump instead of a petrol or electric water pump.
Additionally, farmers can reduce fertilizer waste by adding fertilizer directly to their water tank and administer it consistently throughout the drip system. Furthermore, farmers can reduce labor costs due to the simplicity of the drip system operation.
SunCulture is compiled of a diverse team of engineers, agronomists, financial experts, and more. They all share the passion for agriculture and are eager about innovations in this industry. Founded in 2013, in Nairobi, Kenya, the company wants to make new technologies affordable for farmers all throughout Africa.