Less than 20% of the land area in Kenya is suitable for rain fed agriculture and irrigation technology is prohibitively expensive. Using the M-PESA, the mobile money service developed by a Cambridge company, SunCulture has a developed a solar-powered alternative that is a quarter of the price of existing technology and does not require petrol.
Charles Nichols, CTO and Co-Founder of SunCulture, says the potential for solar-powered irrigation across the African continent is immense. “We’re really excited about agriculture in Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the highest prevalence of undernourishment in the world – almost one in every four people are undernourished.
“However, Africa possesses 50% of the world’s unused arable land and it has the potential to feed itself – and help feed the world too.”
By 2030, the World Bank projects that Africa’s farmers will create a trillion dollar agribusiness market if they can access the capital, knowledge and technology necessary to increase yields. SunCulture is to provide a one-stop solution for commercial smallholder fruit and vegetable farmers in Africa – in addition to the equipment it also provides technical and agronomy support both on-farm and by mobile phone.
This package is to be made available as ‘irrigation as a service’ and paid for using M-PESA, the mobile money service developed by Cambridge-based Sagentia.
Payments made through the ‘Pay As You Go’ (PAYG) service will unlock a certain number of days of usage of the solar-powered irrigation system, thereby overcoming the need for farmers to make a large upfront investment in the technology.
Images from sunculture.com