Rwandan Woman Develops App to Boost Agriculture

The Smart Potato Greenhouse Technology app uses sensors to monitor soil quality and temperature and automates irrigation

Fresh from undertaking a six-month training in “Internet of Things” (IoTs) at the Catholic University of Rwanda (CUR) in the country’s Huye and Gisagara Districts, 24-year-old Clemence Uwamutarambirwa developed a mobile phone application that uses sensors to monitor soil quality and temperature and can automate irrigation.

IOTs refers to the technology that enables inert objects to be embedded with sensors and software and networked for the purpose of exchanging data.

UN Women Rwanda collaborates with the Catholic University of Rwanda under a joint youth programme funded by Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) to support women and girls in creating job opportunities. Ms. Uwamutarambirwa was one of 25 trainees who benefited from the six-month IoTs training

Ms. Uwamutarambirwa calls her App the Smart Potato Greenhouse Technology (SPGT).

Currently being used to detect levels of temperature and humidity of potatoes in greenhouses in Musanze District, southern province of Rwanda, the App is expected to be scaled up to other districts later in the year.

“Technology helps our farmers and greenhouse managers to monitor soil quality, humidity, temperature and automate the irrigation process, but it also improves the security systems using different sensors,”

The invention is considered a significant agricultural solution to hunger. Its success will attract farmers in other parts of the country. About 69 per cent of Rwandan households engage in agriculture activities such as crop production or animal husbandry.

How it works

The SPGT App consists of two parts:-

The first part deals with interconnected sensors such as a moisture sensor to monitor the soil quality, a humidity sensor to monitor the humidity of potatoes, and a smart irrigation sensor to pump water to the greenhouse.

The second part deals with data transmission. It sends notifications, alerts, and other remote monitoring information to the mobile phones of greenhouse managers.

“The sensors capture pertinent data and send notifications and alerts to greenhouse managers through a cloud platform,” says Ms. Uwamutarambirwa.

The App also improves security systems, using sound and motion sensors and automated digital cameras to monitor attempts at stealing devices from a greenhouse. These sensors automatically detect theft attempts, take and transmit pictures to the mobile phones of greenhouse managers.