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The Rwanda-Israel Horticulture Center of Excellence (HCoE) is a bilateral initiative between the Government of Rwanda and the State of Israel, conceived as part of Rwanda’s Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy II, which places agriculture as a sector having great potential to reduce poverty and ensure that growth is inclusive.

In partnership with GIZ Rwanda, HCoE requested us to develop and test an automated irrigation system gathering real-time data on environmental and soil parameters within both greenhouses and open fields, then use analytics developed for this data to create automated irrigation processes, limiting waste of costly inputs such as water, fertiliser and pesticides.

Once the value of smart farming had been shown within the context of Rwanda, phase 2 (coming in 2021) would be to develop a more affordable, power efficient solution that could be used by farmers across the region.

Our solar powered Smart Agriculture remote monitoring and automation system further customised to address these needs, allowing HCoE agronomists to get a holistic view of both soil and air conditions across a number of different locations, then use this data to develop irrigation strategies. At this stage, the agronomist could set watering parameters such as minimum soil moisture and watering duration, then schedule watering sessions when data recorded was outside these set thresholds.

Automated reports were created, for agronomists to discuss with their peers, showing conditions witnessed over a certain period of time, and how the system reacted to this (eg, less water when a storm is coming or temperature was low).

Farmers often over water their crops in Rwanda, washing away valuable inputs. Our system could de-risk the irrigation process, helping farms to learn more from their environments, improving yields and lowering their costs.