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.
As the global population progresses towards 8.5 billion by 2030, the amount of urban solid waste is budding even faster than the rate of urbanization. In Kenya, solid waste is a precursor to several environmental and health challenges, ranging from clogged drainage and sewers, waterborne diseases like typhoid, cholera and diarrhea, increased upper respiratory diseases from open burning of the garbage, to malaria. Collection and disposal systems are inefficient and are not environmentally-friendly.
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.
There will be a 10 per cent growth in the photovoltaic solar markets around Africa for the coming ten years. This growth, is propelled by a number of factors including government policies that favor adoption of renewable energy, increased environmental awareness for adoption of more renewable energy, viability of these systems as alternatives in powering homes including better costing plans, and the fact that they are becoming cheaper than traditional grid power.
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.
Use of scalable off-grid solutions in advancing rural electrification is important in developing worlds. Last year, Kenya awarded the first utility concession permit to a off-grid power company to generate, distribute and sell power. This year marks an important stage for the project that will demonstrate how these solutions can fit into the agenda, and probably pave the way for entry of more private players of scalable off-grid energy generation and supply solutions.
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.
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.
Production of electricity from waste has the potential of providing up to 83.8 TeraWatt hours, which is about 20% of the electricity needed in Africa by 2025. This is according to a study co-authored by the European Commission Joint Research Centre. However, this requires stringent waste management policies to be put in place, and today Africa lacks the adequate infrastructure needed to install these environmentally friendly methods.
Precision, smart agriculture, Ag 3.0, any name is fine. The Internet of Things is beginning to change agricultural practices, from monitoting farms, collecting relevant farm data, to empowering farmers receive this information and take necessary timely decisions. When used together with weather data from sattellite and other systems, alongside smartphones, cloud platforms and satellite, the result is cost reduction and better yields.