In Africa, despite many slogans and proverbs making references to farming, young people are increasingly attracted to big city living, leading to a wave of urbanisation on the continent.
However, in Kenya, there is a band of young entrepreneurs who believe that when agriculture is paired with high-tech solutions on mobile phones, young people are seeing the benefits of staying in the villages to farm.
Watch the video and anwswer the questions below.
1. What is the Silicon Savannah?
2. Who is Illuminum Greenhouses trying to help?
3. How do farmers farmers connect to their greenhouse, monitor the temperature and programme the sprinkler system?
4. When did Millicent Rutere start farming?
5. Who worked the land in Millicen's family? Who got the money?
6. What is the percentage of Kenyan population that still live in rural areas?
Skyscrapers, traffic jams and throngs of people. Kenya's capital is a typical African city except that here mobile phones and digital systems are taking over. Nairobi is known as the Silicon Savannah. People often think that the Silicon Savannah is an area in Africa. In fact, it’s a building, this very building, where take-on entrepreneurs take advantage of the cheap rents and the free software that allows them to focus on the various functions and applications that they’re building. And it's something that Illuminum Greenhouses has taken advantage of as they develop the hardware that will help Kenya's smallholder farmers.
It's also from here that Taita Ngetich and his team design green houses that have inbuilt sensors controlled via mobile phone. The technology has taken off, but not without difficulties.
We're building hardware and it’s not called hard for anything and I think it's really hard, and it's very difficult to develop that in Kenya because we have a very small pool of skilled developers to work with and secondly to get anyone nice today is costly, therefore the problem of access to capital exists.
This effusion of talents here as developers, agricultural experts and investors from America partner to create this product. Through a simple text message, farmers connect to their greenhouse, monitor the temperature and programme the sprinkler system. Remotely, the water is pumped onto the crops at this farm, 20 kilometers away. The co-owner is Millicent Rutere, who has 13 green houses on her plot. She grows herbs such as basil and chives. She began farming as a child and feels strongly about the plight of women who are the majority of Kenya’s smallholders.
I grew up in the village and when I was eight years old I started seeing the challenges that my mother faced when she was raising us up because there's no other source of income apart from farming. When my mother tried to work in the field, my father would take all the money and misused the money, and I could not see the sense of women working in the field and men taking the yields in selling.
It's for this reason that Millicent farms cash crops destined for Europe and Dubai. Even though Kenya is moving towards a modern economy, more than seventy percent of the population still live in rural areas. The younger generation, who are exposed to different opportunities, have found a way to match the old Kenya with the new.
1 a building in Nairobi
2 Kenya's farmers
3 through a text message
4 as a child
5 her mom; her dad
6 over 70%