Farming in Kenya, is normally characterized as a rural activity venture by most urban dwellers who usually regard it as a dirty activity, but the revolution of Agriculture in Kenya and the rest of the world has made many to change their mind towards farming.
In sensing the need of increased farming, a group of four young person’s namely Elizabeth Onyango, Hansel Wangara, Brenda Anne and Ronald Kemei, came together with a view of enticing the modernized folks to enhance their farming skills and also saw it as a business activity and formed a company referred to as Ukulima tech.
The company specializes in the design, fabrication, installation and maintenance of Vertical farming systems, tower gardens, kitchen gardens and garden automation.
In an interview with Hortfresh Journal at their offices on Kirichwa road off Ngong road, in Nairobi, Ronald Kemei, revealed that Ukulima tech involves farming vertically to maximize on the available space considering that most urban dwellers don’t have large spaces to enhance their farming by growing both leafy and fruity vegetables.
“We have two types of vertical farming systems that we are encouraging urban settlers to adopt in order to promote farming namely Automation system and the drip irrigation system,” revealed kemei
The automation system is where it’s done in the tower garden, tower is where crops are Spaced strategically to enhance even growth,, it utilizes the Global System for Mobile (GSM) networks; the App is installed on a phone with the specific networks where it communicates to activate the pump which then irrigates the crops at a certain period, when one clicks on the app, a menu appears where you select the command that you need it to perform. When you click “irrigate”, the app sends a message to the automation module to irrigate the garden.
When the apps have been commanded to irrigate, one can lift the pots from the tower and can see water flowing slowly in the tower as it wets the soil surface of plants, the tower has been designed such that the crops are planted in perforated pots and tins and then placed in the tower to grow.
Due to the high cost of electricity, the tower garden has been designed to use solar energy, where a solar of 50 watts is installed to pump the water from the water reservoir up to the town garden. Manual operations are also available as it is not restricted to automation only.
A common version of this farming system is that it uses techniques similar to glass houses, where natural sunlight can be augmented with artificial lighting (Grow Lights) and metal reflectors,
On the other hand, drip irrigation is the one perforated with pipes filled with soil and manure which are transplanted with crops and sold to farmers. The crops are placed vertically to minimize on the space and to enable the water to flow to the top of the pipe and then it flows back down to the lower pipe with the aid of gravity.
“Same as the automation system, it uses the solar energy to circulate water from the tank to the entire systems,” said Kemei.
Interestingly, in the entire two systems, pests are controlled with the use of garlic since it has foul smell that pests are allergic to hence repels them from feeding on the crops hence damaging them and organic fertilizers are used in the entire system due to its highly decomposing nature.
Furthermore, they have managed to install 15 units of these systems in Nairobi and its environs to those who are willing to embrace the technology and are encouraging others as it is relatively new .A unit costs 15,000 to install and it can hold a standard of up to 44 crops.