Brian Bett and Taita Ng’etich two best friends started an innovative sustainable start-up called Illuminum Greenhouses which constructs affordable, modern greenhouses to meet their expenditure.
Brian Bett and Taita Ng’etich both were childhood friends and attended same high school in Kenya’s Rift Valley province later joined same college, in order to meet their expenses, they decided to start up a movie shop but then decided on farming.
They joined hands with four other friends and pooled resources and started a venture growing tomatoes in Loitokitok, a small town at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro on the Kenya-Tanzania border.
The start-up ended in disaster when the entire crop was wiped out by floods, but that experience they got through the disaster gave them bunch of idea in setting up a greenhouse. The water conservation is gaining lot of importance in recent days BwareIT an Israeli startup works on water conservation at household level, Illuminum Greenhouses conserve water at farm level.
Technology used in Illuminum Greenhouses.
The Green house is built from local material and is equipped with sensors which monitors temperature, humidity and soil moisture the automated sensors can also be commanded by the farmer using his phone to either conduct or stop irrigation.
The whole system will run on solar power and the irrigation system can be turned off and on by text message which helps in optimizing use of water and reduces the waste. Farmer will be in control of his or her smart farm from any location as long as he is within a range of receiving mobile network coverage because the sensors are linked to the telephone operator SIM card.
In traditional manual Irrigation system, which is widely used across the world, farmer opens the valves and estimates irrigation time while this technology uses controlled irrigation system where it will open the valves only based on the soil moisture levels and also ensure that only the needed amount is supplied to the crop which ensures timely feeding for the crops as well as reducing wastage of water by over 60 percent.
The sensors are connected to an 18-watt solar panel and also connected with a battery backup that can keep it running for over five days. The advanced technology will also help farmers in planning and determining the weather patterns in the area and therefore informing them on when and what to grow at what time of the year.
The daily information detected by the sensors will be recorded in a remote server and farmers using the technology given a website to access the details. The details recorded in the server information will enables anyone using it to analyses all the vital weather patterns pertaining his greenhouse and eventually use this information to plan in future.
Illuminum Greenhouses and its future.
The startup today has constructed 700+ Greenhouses and benefited more than 2500 farmers,their success gave them an opportunity to participate and make pitches during the Global Entrepreneurship Summit held last month and walked away with $15,000 (Sh1.5 million) as venture capital.
The innovative start-up has helped farmers to use advanced technology to reduce water usage at low price, the option for farmers to access reliable weather information of his locality is ensuring the project to be sustainable.