Home Science Technology Kenyan Inventor Wins Africa Prize for AI Pest Detection Tool

Kenyan Inventor Wins Africa Prize for AI Pest Detection Tool

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Early warning pest alerts
Early warning pest alerts

Esther Kimani, a pioneering Kenyan innovator, has secured the coveted Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation with her groundbreaking solar-powered device using AI and machine learning.

The tool swiftly detects and identifies agricultural pests and diseases, significantly reducing crop losses for smallholder farmers by up to 30% while boosting yields by 40%.

Awarded £50,000 by the Royal Academy of Engineering, Esther Kimani becomes the third woman and second Kenyan to claim this esteemed accolade. Her innovation addresses a critical need in Kenya, where millions of smallholder farmers lose a substantial portion of their crops to pests and diseases each year.

Kimani’s device operates on a solar-powered platform equipped with AI-enabled cameras and machine learning algorithms. It provides real-time alerts to farmers within seconds of detecting an infestation, accompanied by tailored intervention suggestions. Moreover, the tool alerts government agricultural officers, facilitating broader pest and disease management efforts nationwide.

Speaking at the award ceremony in Nairobi on June 13, 2024, Kimani expressed her vision for scaling the technology to benefit one million farmers within the next five years. Her innovation not only promises economic empowerment, particularly for women farmers, but also aligns with sustainable agricultural practices crucial for Kenya’s food security.

The Africa Prize, now celebrating its tenth anniversary, has supported nearly 150 entrepreneurs across 23 African countries, generating over 28,000 jobs and positively impacting more than 10 million lives through innovative solutions. This milestone year also saw the Royal Academy of Engineering host a special reunion for past winners, highlighting the Prize’s enduring impact on engineering innovation in Africa.

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