Synnefa was founded in 2013 in Kenya with a mission to create lasting solutions to challenges faced by farmers. The solution has developed over time, but the goal has remained the same: take the guesswork out of farming and improve production, through remote monitoring and trend analysis. After just two years, the team was providing services to 400 farmers; at the time of writing, in 2023, Synnefa works with over 8,726 farmers.
How it works
A typical Synnefa customer is a smallholder who works in the city and tends to their farm on a part-time or entirely remote basis. Using Synnefa’s FarmShield device, farmers gain access to sensor data including temperature, soil moisture, nitrogen levels in the soil and light intensity. Farmers can use this information to make educated decisions about when to irrigate or fertilise their crops; or they can use Synnefa’s smart greenhouses and drip kits which will automatically fulfil these tasks based on sensor data.
The FarmShield data is expressed in the FarmCloud software, which predicts the optimum harvest time and projected yield, and even allows farmers to sell their produce based on these projections. It’ll also provide suggestions for the most productive crops for each farm delivering precision farming through observation and measurement.
The connectivity challenge
Many of the farms supported by Synnefa operate outside of terrestrial infrastructure; there’s unreliable cellular or fibre coverage through which to transmit the FarmShield sensor data. In these circumstances, Synnefa utilises the RockBLOCK 9602 satellite transceiver to backhaul their sensor data. Using Iridium’s Short Burst Data (SBD) service, this is as low-cost as satellite transmissions get, and helps to ensure that Synnefa’s subscription pricing remains within reach of the farmers that most need the support.
Synnefa chose the RockBLOCK 9602 in particular because of the robust modem that easily and quickly connects with the Iridium satellite constellation. It is reliable, and communicates well. The Cloudloop dashboard is user-friendly and gives Synnefa all information they need, such as messages sent and received, and connection details.
Synnefa is committed to supporting three of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): no poverty, zero hunger, and climate action. The response to their enterprise has been incredible:
- Farmers are saving water by over 50%
- Reducing fertiliser application rates by 41%
- Increasing production by 30% when compared to yields prior to the use of their devices.
The next steps are to expand the programme outside of Kenya so that more farmers can benefit from greater yields and reduced wastage.
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