This month the HiFarm project, a data driven agricultural intensification pilot program for maize, coffee and tea farmers in Kenya, was completed. The 18-month project improved farmer productivity whilst enhancing the environmental risk management and climate resilience of 60 lead farmers through improved soil and crop nutrition management.
Over the past years FutureWater, leading company in the water-energy-food nexus, and HiView, company specialized in drone operations, both from the Netherlands managed to develop a low-cost agricultural drone technology which revolutionized the application of geo-information services for African farmers. With the flying sensor services, successful local enterprises were established that provide a low-cost drone service to small- and largescale farmers, both in Mozambique and Kenya. Here so-called AgPilots, young agronomist-drone operators, support farm decisions based on the flying sensor crop mapping that is viewed on a tablet. Within the HiFarm project, funded and conceptualized by the Eco-Business II Sub-Fund Development Facility, the integration of this flying sensor service with crop nutrition advisory and other improved agronomic practices brought the extension service to the next level.
A consortium consisting of FutureWater, Holland Greentech, ThirdEye Kenya and HiView collaborated with agronomists from the Export Trading Group (ETG) and the Empowering Farmers Foundation (EFF) to work together with farmers in the districts of Nakuru, Kiambu, Embu and Limuru to implement Climate Smart Agricultural practices, such as crop rotation to rejuvenate soil nutrients, or mulching to reduce weeds and water erosion. Holland Greentech conducted soil and leaf analysis and provided nutritional advice. Our Kenyan partner ETG was responsible for input delivery that was based on Holland Greentech’s findings. HiView’s role was to monitor the three crops once every 5 weeks throughout the project that lasted one and a half years. With this HiView was in the lead of the flight missions that were executed by ThirdEye, a agricultural drone company that was established by HiView and FutureWater in 2017 and is based in Meru, Kenya. FutureWater was responsible for the overall project management, monitoring & evaluation and online monitoring & planning portal development.
Thanks to the efforts of the HiFarm consortium all planned activities have been carried out in a most successful way. Altogether the team conducted 558 flying sensor flights, covering 984 acres per round (one round every 5 weeks), enhancing the productivity of 60 farmers in Kenya by up to 25%. The success of this pilot project proves the great potential for agronomic extension services in which data driven technology is used. The bundled service is now ready to be scaled up to reach more farmers and assess its replicability across different geographic locations.
This is without doubt a great achievement and we are proud of the complete HiFarm team, but especially local AgPilots Mrs Veronicah Nyaguthii and Ms Purity Kinya, together with the national manager from ThirdEye Kenya, Mr Kiogora Julius.
The pilot project was funded and conceptualized by the Eco-Business II Sub-Fund Development Facility, and carried out by FutureWater, HiView, Holland Greentech and ThirdEye Kenya, with the Export Trading Group (ETG) and Empowering Farmers Foundation (EFF). For more information visit: www.ecobusiness.fund.