KENYA – FarmerLifeLine is harnessing technology to empower over 5,000 Kenyan farmers, enabling them to swiftly detect and diagnose pests and diseases on their farms.
The company, led by one Esther Kimani, is the first-ever producer of solar-powered crop pests and diseases detection devices.
A 2023 report by the National Institutes of Health highlighted that each year, Africa loses half of its harvest to pests, primarily due to delayed diagnosis or misidentification of these threats and the improper application of farm chemicals.
Field trials conducted on 400 farms have demonstrated the transformative impact of FarmerLifeLine’s technology. It has been proven to reduce yield losses by 30 percent for 360 farmers, with an additional 40 percent reporting an increase in their overall production.
What sets FarmerLifeLine apart is its unwavering confidence in the efficacy of its technology. The company offers a cash-back guarantee to any farmer who does not achieve a 30-40 percent increase in farm harvest within the first four months of utilizing their device.
“Our solar-powered crop pests and disease detection device can scan a farm and notify farmers of any crop pests or diseases through their phone. Once the device detects a crop pest or disease, it advises the farmer on suitable farm chemicals and fertilizers, along with guidance on where to purchase them,” Esther Kimani explained the innovative solution.
The data collected from these devices, currently in use by farmers in four counties, is analyzed to generate insights that inform data-guided policies and decisions within the agricultural sector.
Marion Mburu, a kale farmer in Ruku, Kiambu County, attests to the transformative impact of FarmerLifeLine.
“The device is convenient and cost-effective. I do not have to be on my farm scouting for any pests or diseases, as I receive a notification on my phone via an SMS whenever anything harmful is detected. This is coupled with advice on what I should apply and where I can buy it from,” she said.
The proprietary pathogen detection device, primarily solar-powered, boasts a 48-hour battery life and remains unaffected by rain.
With a camera featuring a 730-meter 180-degree radius scanning capacity, it captures crop images periodically using computer vision algorithms to identify the presence of pests or diseases.
The FarmerLifeLine device is leased to farmers for a nominal fee of Sh100 (U.S$ 0.62) per month and has a lifespan of five to 10 years, reports FarmBiz Africa.
For their outstanding contribution in addressing the pest burden in Kenya, Esther Kimani and FarmerLifeLine have received numerous prestigious awards, including the 2023 Vijana Na Agribiz Competition, COMESA Award, African Agrihack, TotalStartUpper, 2022 GoGettaz, AWIEF African Award, COP27 Youth Adapt, among others.