Smart Farm Automation Kit

We are an Agri-tech company providing affordable greenhouses and drip irrigation kits equipped with solar powered sensors controlled via SMS

Photo of Brian Bett
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Illuminum Greenhouses

Year founded

2014

Initiative stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $250k - $500k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 1,000 - 5,000

Organization type

  • Social enterprise

Secondary Focus Area

  • Rural development

Headquarters location: Country

  • Kenya

Headquarters location: City

Nairobi

Location(s) of impact

Kenya: Nairobi. Kiambu, Kajiado, Machakos,Meru, Eldoret, Kericho

Website

http://illuminumgreenhouses.com

Facebook URL

https://www.facebook.com/illuminumgreenhouses

Twitter URL

https://twitter.com/GreenhouseKenya

Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

We seek to establish a lasting solution to the over-reliance on rain-fed agriculture where in Kenya, 93% of all smallholder farmers depend on rain in order to farm. Outdated farming technology is one of the greatest problems affecting our agricultural sector causing very low production in farms. Drip irrigation provides all year production of crops while the sensors introduce new tech to ensure water is used efficiently and accurately. Our innovation also addresses the challenge of minimal youth inclusion in agriculture

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

We construct greenhouses and install drip irrigation kits equipped with solar-powered sensors that improve water conservation Our device using its soil
moisture sensor effectively maintains the soil at the required percentage only irrigating the crops when required. This is outside the norm where farmers have traditionally irrigated based on physical examination of the soil and specified times in the morning and evening creating a lot of loopholes for errors such as delayed irrigation, excessive or poor watering. The result? Improved yields and earnings as farmers can now farm all year round increasing seasons from 1 to up to 3 in a year while growing under a protective and safe environment. Farmers using our systems no longer have to grow drought-resistant crops but grow high-value horticultural crops which fetch a higher price in the market. disease outbreaks driving down water and chemical expenses in these farms while allowing farmers to engage in other economic activities.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

Smallholder farmers who are predominantly women are often engaged in rain-fed agriculture that requires a significant amount of effort, fetches low market prices and is prone to crop failure. To address this problem, we provide them with smart greenhouses complete with drip irrigation kits and solar-powered sensors that ultimately help women increase their household income and reduce their agricultural workload. We measure the number of greenhouses sold and the number of women buying these greenhouses. These two metrics are collected at the point of sale by our agents and thereafter, as we provide extension officers to train them on farming, we measure the amount of yield from this farms and thereby obtain the revenue earned by the women. Our target by 2018 is to reach 5,400 women and 12,600 women by 2019.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

We make money from selling greenhouses and drip irrigation kits. We
charge USD1,100 for our smallest unit and costs as USD660 to construct and set up. Our profit margins are 40% all through our greenhouses and drip irrigation kits. Our sensors shall cost us USD330 to make and we shall sell at USD650 to cover our marketing costs and installation charges. We will have a monthly subscription to access our farmer portal which we shall provide valuable information such as the amount of water irrigated against time in order to allow the farmer plan for the next purchase of water. We shall charge a monthly fee of USD10 to access this portal.

Estimates of percentages are:
1. Individual donations or gifts - 5%
2. Grants and prizes- 30%
3. Corporate contributions - 5%
4. Earned income - 60%

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

Currently, farmers construct metallic greenhouses which are almost 2-3 times more costly than our wooden greenhouses. Though the question of environmental conservation comes to question, we ensure that for every greenhouse we construct, we plant 10 trees to ensure it remains sustainable while steel, on the other hand, is not bio-degradable which becomes a concern at scale. Edyn in the USA have also created a sensor system for farms, though theirs runs on Wifi that is not easily available

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

Illuminum Greenhouses™ was founded by two friends having gone to the same high school and university.After running broke within the first 3 weeks of campus, we decided to grow tomatoes, sell and make money. Easy!(so we thought). 3 months later, we lost all proceeds due to a flood that hit our farm. We immediately researched on how to mitigate this risk and went into greenhouse farming. Our farm was so successful that other farmers started taking interest hence we registered Illuminum Greenhouses™ to serve this need. We designed a low-cost greenhouse using locally available materials such as nails and wood driving the costs down by over 150% as compared to metallic greenhouses which were at the market. As the business grew, farmers started complaining about water management. excessive/under irrigation due to employees were rampant that directly affected production or led to diseases

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Ashoka page or contact

2 comments

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Photo of Joseph Brenyah

The project is much needed in the tropics on account of harsh weather at times and lack of water. Further contact will be made later.

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