Two Tanzanians take ‘smart’ hydroponics closer to homes

Two Tanzanian youth, who viewed horticultural challenges as a business opportunity started exploring and customizing soil-less farming by using modern technologies. Based on their idea, the two young men won $5000 (about Sh11 million) from the Royal Danish Embassy and Sahara Ventures in 2019 – a sum which has enabled them to expand their business investment, ‘Smart Hydroponics,’ by five times.

Praygod Japhet and Dickson Mallya came up with the idea of a risk-free, soil-less farming technology in 2018 after discovering that the horticulture industry in Tanzania is dominated by small-scale farmers by about 70 percent.

“Since we established the company last year, we have done a number of things, including the installation of machines on commercial, individual and government institutions, as well as local government councils mostly in Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Tanga and Morogoro,” Mr. Japhet said. “We have seen the technology working well because the demand for the products involved increased. We have had a number of pre-orders for our machines from clients – and we do the installation ourselves for different customers.

The technology initiated by AgriTechs Company Limited targets people who want to reduce expenditure on crop farming in urban centers where people don’t have large areas on which to cultivate their own food crops – and have to spend most of their income purchasing foodstuffs. Japhet noted that urban dweller spend up to 70 percent of their monthly income to buy food. “So, we came up with the innovation so as to assist them to grow crops on their premises, thus helping them to reduce their expenditure on food,” he says.

Horticulture in Tanzania is arguably the fastest-growing sub-sector of the Economy within the agriculture sector. It is estimated to have an average annual growth of 10-12 percent: far above the three percent growth per annum of the agriculture sector overall.

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