UjuziKilimo, a Kenyan agricultural Technology startup is targeting to impact 100,000 small scale farmers by providing digital agronomical information and extension services. UjuziKilimo is a Swahili word which loosely translates to “farming knowledge” and is the brainchild of Brian Bosire. The startup uses big data and analytic capabilities to transform farmers into a knowledge-based community, with the goal of improving productivity through precision insights.
Having seen his parents suffer from poor agricultural yields, Bosire – an electronic engineer developed a handheld electronic sensor that gathers data on soil quality to assist farmers decide what to grow.
"My first dream was to have some device that any farmer like my mother could just stick into the ground, and within a few minutes get the precise information about what kind of inputs they need, what kinds of crops will do well, and where to get those inputs,"
“Most small scale farmers can’t easily access agronomical information, while extension services are also quite expensive. I wanted to come up with a digital agronomy that the farmers could have in their palms” he says.
The farm visits are done by extension agents who test the soil and send information by text to the analysis center in Nairobi, which then responds with information regarding crop breed, fertilizer required, pest control, and other farm management tools. The company has employed 20 field agents.
"We are proud that at least farmers are getting the right knowledge to drive them to profitability,"
“Our main aim is to help farmers reduce the cost of production while also getting high returns,” Bosire says.
The company currently has two products; Soil pal - a handheld sensor to quickly and easily measure the pH levels, macro nutrients (NPK), electrical conductivity and organic content of soil, and a second product called Farm Suite – a farming data cloud. Farm suite is a complete farm management, predictive farm analytics, intelligent insights and recommendations software to power decision making for farmer groups, co-operatives and service providers. The relay of information to the farmer after the data is sent by the field agent to the analysis center takes about 2-5 minutes. This is a great milestone as traditional soil sample analysis could take up to months.
SDG goal on Zero Hunger
The company is focused on addressing the SDG goal number 2; Zero hunger of which Kenya is a signatory. Bosire says climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing Africa, since her agriculture is mainly rain-fed, and reiterates that one of the best ways to make farmers more resilient is to create solutions that are tailored to smallholders.
“Agriculture is the key driver of our economy, but as innovators, we must start looking at the daily lives of the people in the value chain,” he says.
UjuziKilimo currently serves more than 30,000 small scale farmers in Kenya. However, they are targeting to grow their client base to 100,000 farmers by end of 2021.
“We have partnered with Nyeri County and the World Bank but we are also expanding and currently we’re in two counties but we’ll soon be operational in three more counties,” Bosire says adding that even though the soil testing kit, Soil Pal isn’t currently available in the market, famers will be able to get off-the shelf kit in three months to come.
The company was admitted into the 2017/2018 Leaders in Innovation Fellowship (LIF) by the Kenya National Innovation Agency (KeNIA) and has won several awards including The American Society of Mechanical Engineers Innovation Showcase, the World Bank’s Disruptive Agricultural Technology, and the Google Impact Challenge.