While floods are destroying crops in Rwanda, a digital solution should help to improve farming practices and climate resilience in a number of towns, starting with Musanze, 98 kilometres from Kigali.
“Smart Potato Greenhouse Technology (SPGT). This is the application developed in Rwanda by Clemence Uwamutarambirwa to promote climate-smart agriculture (CSA), particularly in the eastern district of Musanze. According to the 24-year-old student, this solution uses sensors to “determine soil quality and temperature and automate irrigation”.
The initiative aims to use technology to help implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These include SDG2, which calls for greater food security through ecological agricultural production systems. It is within this framework that SPGT benefits from the joint support of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the Catholic University of Rwanda (CUR) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).
Clemence Uwamutarambirwa initially chose Musanze, the most mountainous area of this East African country, because demographic pressure, climatic hazards (flooding) and chemical pollution are increasing soil impoverishment and threatening the livelihoods of some 368,000 inhabitants. “The sensors provide relevant data on soil humidity, for example, and send notifications or alerts (attempted thefts) to greenhouse managers via a cloud-based platform,” explains the engineer.
Elsewhere, particularly in the rural locality of Gahengeri in the Rwamagana district, the environmental challenges faced by small-scale farmers are identical. As a result, 2,000 farmers are being trained in the management of storage and drying facilities, as well as in irrigation and husking. The training is being provided by Green Light, a subsidiary of the South Korean automotive group Hyuandai Motor, which is also hiring out agricultural machinery to the trainees. It is part of its commitment to environmental responsibility in Rwanda.