Hikma Agro Services, an entrepreneur of the Ghana Climate Innovation Centre’s Cohort 4, has embarked on an ambitious seed yam multiplication programme with the goal to promote food security all year round.
Chief Executive Officer of Hikma Agro Services, Amadu Mahama, gives his account on how the Ghana Climate Innovation Centre (GCIC) Technology and Product Development (TPD) grant made this ambition possible. He writes…
We sought to provide a solution to programme of seed yam multiplication all year round, with a well-built greenhouse and nurseries. We no longer must worry about the changing seasons which used to affect the growth cycle of our plants. The greenhouse shields our crops from squirrels, insects, and other pests.
The only downside to the greenhouse is that the internal temperatures can get very hot, posing new challenges for tender crops, and requiring constant monitoring, maintenance and care.
With support from the Ghana Climate Innovation Centre (GCIC) Technology and Product Development (TPD) Team, Hikma sought technical assistance from a local greenhouse climate control specialist, Techshelta to address the problem. The problem we posed; ho w do we monitor temperatures and humidity closely, throughout the day, and take proactive measures to ensure that the environment is just right for our growing tender seed yams.
After a site-specific assessment of our facilities, Techshelta proposed a truly innovative solution.
Here’s the good news: Now we can remotely keep an eye on our greenhouse around the clock. To make this possible, we installed an automatic monitoring, ventilation, irrigation and misting system with a user-friendly App, EWeLinks.
Remote Automation Explained
A remote automation system allows us to run our greenhouse from anywhere – on the farm, at home, in the office, or for that matter, anywhere in the world – with only the touch of a button. We have set the entire climate control system in the greenhouse on auto, and we let it adjust itself depending on set conditions. With a series of circulatory fans, heat extractors and misters, the automatic climate control system constantly monitors the changes in the environment and takes action to cool the ‘growing room’. This smart technology is helping us big time!
The remote automation system comes with video cameras, which make it easy to monitor the growing room visually as well. To put it simply, automation has given us the freedom to schedule our time conveniently and gives us the peace of mind that the greenhouse will continue thriving.
Besides taking time-consuming tasks off our plate, greenhouse automation has brought us other advantages, too. These include:
- Thriving Greenhouse Environment
Besides temperature fluctuations and humidity changes, equipment failures pose a threat to the greenhouse environment, too. Even brief power failures and security breaches can harm the entire greenhouse. But with a remote automation system, we stay on top of all environmental changes and equipment or security failures. Just by looking at the camera feed, we can tell if all is going well on the farm. We can tell what environmental conditions in real time only by a tap on the App.
- Automatic, Measured Watering
Because of its controlled environment, greenhouse plants need thorough and proper watering. The automation makes watering much easier, as it allows us to control the time and length of measured, automatic watering. We can customize the watering needs, based on the different stages of plant growth or time of year.
There is less labour-intensive and repetitive work for our employees. In turn, we can redeploy them to crop maintenance, harvest duties, and other crucial tasks.
With the greenhouse and production systems now truly optimized, we are looking forward to our first clean high-quality foundation seed yams in mid-2020.
The Ghana Climate Innovation Centre (GCIC) is a pioneering business incubator whose objective is to support entrepreneurs and ventures involved in developing profitable and locally appropriate solutions to climate change mitigation and adaptation in Ghana. Our key focus is on building businesses operating within the areas of energy efficiency, domestic waste management, solar energy, water supply management and purification and climate-smart agriculture. GCIC is part of the World Bank Group’s infoDev Climate Technology Program. Supported by the governments of Denmark and the Netherlands, the Centre is managed by a consortium led by the Ashesi University College and including Ernst & Young, SNV Ghana, and the United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa.
By Amadu Mahama,
CEO of Hikma Agro Services, Ghana.