Esther Kimani is the CEO of Farmer Lifeline Technologies, providing agri-technology solutions to detect crop pests and diseases.
The company offers a crop pest and disease detection device allowing farmers to avail on an order-a-device or lease-a-device basis.
Esther founded the company in 2019 after seeing the struggle that her parents and other smallholder farmers were experiencing.
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Here is her story as told by WoK.
Esther was born and raised in Tigoni, Nyandarua County.
While growing up, she saw her parents and other smallholder farmers grapple with pests and diseases.
This reality saw Esther embark on a journey to find a lasting solution that could help deal with the pest and diseases menace.
It was when studying Computer Science at the university when she started working on an effective innovative idea.
“I wanted to solve the pest and disease menace for smallholder farmers because they put a lot of effort to produce food and feed the nation, unfortunately, they waste a lot of it on pests and disease invasion. This is caused by delays in identifying pests and diseases,” Esther said.
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Come 2019, she started a start-up called Farmer Lifeline Technologies and built a device that has the ability to detect crop pests and diseases at early stages.
Esther set up the company with Ksh 1 million which she raised from family and friends who championed for her idea.
She also received support from other organizations including the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra) which gave her Ksh 6.85 million.
“The financial support has really propelled my innovation forward and helped me make huge strides in growing the business. We have also been supported in training and looking forward to more,” Esther added.
Esther first piloted the device on her parents’ farm, then to neighbors and friends later.
“Initially, people thought it was a CCTV, creating a lot of attention. But this was to my advantage as I seized the opportunity to sensitize and urged farmers to embrace the innovation. It worked wonders,” she explained.
As at May 2023, she has installed 2,000 devices and works with over 5,000 farmers.
She leases a device to a farmer for Ksh 100 a month; one device costs Ksh 5,000 to install and has other
costs for maintenance.
Additionally, a single device can serve up to three smallholder farmers, where each pays Ksh 100 per month.
During installation, the device is mounted on a long pole with a camera facing the farm, covering a radius of 600 metres and 180 degrees.
The camera system captures images of the crops in the field periodically and process the images using advanced computer vision algorithms to determine the nature of the infection, infestation, pests or pathogens.
Incase of any pests and diseases in the farm, the system notifies the farmer through a SMS on their mobile phones.
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