Right this minute; a woman somewhere in rural sub-Saharan Africa is on a long trek. Not because she’s part of a nomadic tribe or visiting a neighbouring village but because she has to do something that many of us with modern conveniences take for granted – cook for her family. This woman represents the reality of about 3 billion of the world’s population who cook meals over an open fire everyday. People who just need an easier way to get things done. Showcased in the Network’s Solutions Database along with other low-tech projects, the Ezy stove does just that.
Feeding a growing world poses complex challenges for which new technologies can help provide solutions. We share information on improved food production that is balanced with issues related to international trade, certification, animal welfare and health. We also share information on areas such as deforestation.
Kenya is a first in many a renewable energy innovation. The country houses a number of solar-energy innovations that touch on, among other sectors, agriculture and the retail sector. Agriculture, being the backbone of the Kenyan economy, and an employer of 75% or thereabouts of the entire country’s workforce, remains an important sector in the country. The IEA observes that by 2050, solar energy could be the top source of electricity, generating up to 16% of the world's electricity - Kenya is certainly not an exception to these statistics.
Smallholder farming is primarily characterized by differentially low incomes, in particular the poor sub-Saharan African farmers. Closely tied to this are the high proportion of farmers income spent on their energy needs, both at the domestic and crop-production level. There is essentially a correlation between income levels and access to clean modern energy. In Kenya, the energy situation could be getting better, with a social enterprise that invests in an end-to-end solution for smallholder farmers, Takamoto Biogas is tackling the fundamental global problems of deforestation and climate change.
From the largest of concentrated solar plants, to the most modest of farms in Kenya, the application of 'sustainable solutions' holds the promise of making the world a better place. John’s business, like so many, is one that is threatened by consequences of climate change. In an effort to secure his way of life, and provide for his family, he turned to innovation: “I had to get involved in smart farming because everything used to dry up,” he says.
Fear factor - the TV show a number of us watched through parted fingers - almost always featured bug eating (entomophagy). The creators of the show had a knack for choosing the most succulent, squiggly, disgusting looking grubs - a la Lion King. Now scientists are saying insects could be the answer to the world’s food sustainability challenges. Should their thinking catch on; you may just find yourself dining like Simba.
When texting was first introduced in Kenya, it gained great popularity among mobile subscribers because it was much cheaper than making phone calls. That’s what really fueled the texting culture; a culture now finding its way into the agricultural sector through Illuminum Greenhouses - greenhouses that text you when resources are getting low.
We’ve all seen those movies. Where the person under house arrest is strapped with an ankle bracelet. The one with a silent flashing red light that will set off an alarm the minute the prisoner steps outside a defined radius of movement. An agricultural innovation created by Fujitsu in Japan , is using ankle bracelets on dairy cows. Not so much to manage their moovement (pun intended) as to connect them to the Internet.
Can nations in Africa and other parts of the developing world leapfrog over the use of fossil fuels and go straight to renewable energy sources? Understandably, the focus in rural development settings is often on generating centralized electrical capacity through renewable energy. Through the use of solar powered technologies, rural farmers can live healthier lives, create efficiencies to reduce their hard physical labor and create food security year-round.
Not to be confused with remote viewing which finds its home in parapsychology, remote sensing involves collecting data about an object without having any physical contact with the object being observed. There are several types of remote sensing systems used in agriculture but the most common is a passive system that senses the electromagnetic energy reflected from plants. The sun is the most common source of energy for passive systems.
To GM or not to GM remains the Shakespearean conundrum a number of African countries still find themselves in. But is there a way to exploit biotechnology without causing such public unease? Selection with Markers and Advance Reproductive Technology (SMART) breeding could be the answer.