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Kenya: Dutch technology aims to get farmers back to the field

On Saturday 7 July a story about SoilCares technology was mentioned on Dutch national TV. The news item followed the story of Matthew Kago who provides soil testing services in Kenya with SoilCares Scanner. Kago gives farmers practical soil information directly on the field. Previously, farmers needed to go to a laboratory to get their soil tested. However, this is too expensive and too far away for many of the farmers in Kenya.

How it all started
SoilCares was founded in 2013 by Henri Hekman who dedicated his life work on increasing farmers’ productivity in a sustainable way. Five years ago, he sold BLGG (a company well known in the Netherlands for its soil analyzes) and used the revenue to start SoilCares. His goal is to offer farmers worldwide insight into their soil’s composition and provide them with advice on which fertiliser to use to improve the soil fertility.

Feeding the growing world population
60 percent increase in food production is required to feed the growing world population that is expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050. Especially on the African continent, where the population is growing exponentially, production needs to increase substantially. That is why East Africa is one of the focus areas of SoilCares. Agricultural productivity there is much lower than in the rest of the world. This is partially due to climate change: many African farmers are dependent on rain as they do not have an irrigation system. However, the low productivity is also explained by the infertility of the soil. Kenyan soils are often heavily acidified because of fertiliser misuse. And this is where the SoilCares Scanner can help by giving an on-the-spot fertiliser recommendations.

12,000 analyses
There are now about 300 Scanners on the market with which approximately 12,000 analyzes have been done. SoilCares hopes to reach a quarter of a million farmers by the end of 2019, from Kenya to Myanmar and the Philippines.

Attracting youth to agriculture
The Kenyan soil expert Harawa thinks that the Scanner can also help to get young people interested in agriculture. "Fewer and fewer young people want to be farmers like their parents. They prefer to go to the city and look for a job. We hope that new technology will get them involved in agriculture, as we do need them on the field."

For more information:
Nieuwe Kanaal 7C
6709 PA Wageningen
The Netherlands

Publication date: 7/12/2018



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