Introducing Our Cover Star, Brian Bosire: “Africa – A Land Brimming with Opportunities…”

Four years prior, Brian Bosire shared with us his aspiration for UjuziKilimo to impact over 10,000 farmers. Now, during a photo shoot for this feature at NewKatz.Studio in Johannesburg, he reveals that the project has extended its reach to more than 26,000 farmers.

“Our vision essentially revolves around a world where smallholder farmers are empowered, leveraging cutting-edge technology to make informed decisions about their farms, access financial support, and gain knowledge to enhance farm productivity,” Bosire states.

Growing up in a small town in southwestern Kenya, Kisii, Bosire developed a deep passion for smallholder farming.

“I hail from a farming village in Kenya, and my parents’ primary profession was farming,” Bosire shares. “They were smallholder farmers, so as I matured, it essentially shaped my understanding of food production and the economy, representing the sole source of livelihood in our family.”

The ESRC STEPS (Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability) Centre agrees with Bosire’s perspective that smallholder farmers are fundamental to the nation’s food security and economy. According to a 2023 report by the centre, “Small farms account for 75% of the total agricultural output.”

As an accomplished engineer, Bosire sought solutions for these farmers that would bring both economic and social benefits.

This inspired the birth of his enterprise, UjuziKilimo– a term in Swahili that translates to ‘knowledge farming’. It processes millions of data points daily to generate a comprehensive and highly accurate soil and agronomic data pool, specific to each field.

Soil Pal, a handheld device, serves as a soil parameter, promptly measuring the content of the farmer’s soil, and yielding adequate data. This allows farmers to get practical information within five minutes about the most suitable crops for their land and the required fertilizers.

An integral part of the UjuziKilimo package is also FarmSuite, a comprehensive farm management software offering predictive farm analytics, intelligent insights, and recommendations to empower decision-making for farmer groups, co-operatives, and service providers.

“Our technology ensures that farmers are transitioning away from guesswork. Traditionally, farmers have relied on intuition to make decisions on crop selection.”

Bosire believes in the abundant opportunities that lie within the African landscape in the realm of agriculture and technology.

“Unlike developed countries, Africa presents a plethora of opportunities concerning the adoption of emerging technologies,” Bosire emphasizes. “It’s an undeniable fact that smallholder farmers comprise the majority of food producers currently. However, it’s disheartening that a significant number of these farmers still live on less than $2 or $3 per day.”

As stated in the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization’s report, The Economic Lives of Smallholder Farmers, about three billion rural inhabitants live in approximately 475 million small farm households, working on land plots smaller than two hectares. The average small farm size in Kenya is slightly larger, being 0.47 hectares, while in Ethiopia, it’s 0.9 hectares.

“Many are poor and food-insecure with limited access to markets and services. Their choices are constrained, but they continue to farm their land and produce food for a large portion of the world’s population. In addition to farming, they engage in multiple economic activities, often in the informal economy, to supplement their modest incomes,” the report read.

For UjuziKilimo, the goal is to ensure that smallholder farmers receive a fair return on their products as they contribute to the future of food. The data collected from the soil, coupled with the interaction with farmers, enables Bosire to provide these farmers access to services like insurance and financing, “owing to the richness of the data that we have developed over

time”.