With today being World Water Day, it begs us to think about the water issues plaguing Kenya, a water scarce country, as well as innovative solutions to counter these problems. The recent deadly droughts in Turkana, Kenya are a painful reminder of this dilemma we are faced with. Climate change is posed to only further exacerbate a lack of access to water. This has devastating consequences on agriculture, which in turn affects food security and farmers’ livelihoods. However, Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC) client MIS Company Limited has come up with an innovative way of sustainably irrigating farms.
Related article: Reducing water waste to help the environment and the bottom line
A lack of affordable, water-efficient irrigation systems for Kenyan farmers
According to MIS Company’s operations manager, Samuel Gitau, one of the main issues affecting farmers is poor application of water- which the MIS system is built to improve.
“80% of farmers in Kenya use obsolete or conventional technologies, such as the furrow. These are highly inefficient, wasteful irrigation systems,” Gitau explains. This is due to leakages, seepage, spillage, and evaporation of water, all these mitigated by the system.
On the other hand, Gitau explains that “in the market there are irrigation technologies available, but they tend to be too expensive for the farmers, as they demand up front purchases and also incur high costs in managing them. For instance, they use a lot of energy, which is both costly and also emits harmful carbon gases.”
In addition, another product on the market that get damaged easily are drip systems. They are costly in that you have to keep replacing them.
With none of these technologies offering the perfect solution, MIS Company identified a gap in the market that they could fill.
MIS Company is founded to reduce water waste on Kenyan farms
MIS Company develops water-efficient irrigation systems using shower drip technology.
The enterprise was founded by Isaac Munyiri, a farmer who faced many challenges in his work. When the rains were short, the reservoir on the farm would quickly get used up- causing lots of frustration. He tried many different forms of irrigation eventually coming up with his own creative solution to save his farm. Initially, Munyiri was only using the system on his own farm- but he realized that, if it could help him, it could probably help someone else, too.
The resulting enterprise, MIS Company, sells irrigation systems that significantly cut down on water waste. After doing research with Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organization (KALRO), they discovered that furrows or sprinklers use 3 times as much water as their system does. For example, if traditional methods utilize 300,000 liters of water on 1 acre of land, MIS Company can use that same amount of water on 3 acres of land. Farmers using MIS Company’s solution can thus increase their productivity exponentially.
MIS Company’s irrigation system is also more affordable than other options. It only needs to be purchased once and has a shelf life of 15 years. Other benefits include its mobility and versatility; it can be moved around the farm and can be used on any type of crop.
Kenya Climate Innovation Center helps MIS Company empower the community
MIS Company became a client of KCIC in August of 2018. Since then, Gitau says the enterprise has benefited greatly from the incubation.
“KCIC has been a gem, I must say,” Gitau claims. “They have helped us in the basic understanding of business and have gone to extremes of facilitating trainings on different aspects of business- such as bookkeeping, HR, and taxation.” Gitau has also joined KCIC’s most recent mentorship program cohort.
As Gitau explains, “KCIC really motivates you- they push you and remind you not to give up. They offer a platform for you to build yourself and grow.”
Furthermore, MIS Company has been able to create both direct and indirect employment in Kenya. As their system cuts across different sectors, they have been able to employ people in manufacturing the system itself in addition to benefiting farmers. Since the system increases productivity on farms, this means that farmers also end up employing more workers to help with the greater yields.
Regarding future visions for the company, Gitau proclaims, “I’d like more people to benefit, encourage more farmers to do irrigation, and mitigate the water issue our country is facing. In the long term, I want Africa at large to be hunger free; for people to thrive on agriculture; and for malnutrition, sickness, and food security to be non-issues.” KCIC couldn’t agree more.
By: Alise Brillault