By Watmore Makokoba
A part from contributing significantly to building community resilience to the effects of climate change, innovations in renewable energy bring a new narrative in climate smart agriculture inventions as simple mechanised implements makes faming simpler and profitable.
After releasing a ground-breaking solar powered hand borehole pump recently, a tech start up Kurera Technologies is introducing a Smart Chicken Feeder aimed at easing the burden of feeding chickens and enhancing profitability for all level poultry farmers.
“The Smart Chicken Feeder operates from a 50Watt solar panel, with a battery back-up duration of up to 4 days. The technology performs the feeding activity in a way that the stock feed consumed on a daily basis is regulated through an integrated counter module that monitors total stock feed dispensed.
“The machine computes the feeding process in variables based on the age and number of chickens being kept.” Said Bongani Masuku, Kurera Product Designer.
Masuku said in coming up with this technology , Kurera’s aim is to focus on providing an innovative precision feeding solution to chicken farmers who oftentimes face challenges from inconsistent power supply, which is very critical in poultry farming.
The innovation also significantly reduces production costs while saving time.
“Approximately 70% of the overall production cost per chicken is contributed by the feeding.
“Our product is integrated with a mobile app, the chicken farmer stays connected to their chicken business, monitoring the progress of the batch of chickens without necessarily having to be physically present”, he added.
Due to high cost of automated feeding equipment, small to medium scale farmers tend to rely on manual feeding when rearing chickens.
This method however presents a number of challenges to the farmer, for instance broiler chickens have a feeding table that outlines the required daily feed quantities that the farmer is supposed to use when feeding chickens. This can be time consuming as the farmer has to measure the daily feed proportions that are required.
“The manual feeding method presents a challenge to the farmer due to the lack of a feed regulating mechanism, to control the daily stock feed consumed. As a result small scale farmers tend to use up to 9 x 50 Kg bags of stock feed whilst the total stock feed to be consumed is pegged at 7 x 50Kg bags of stock feed”, said Bongani.
Due to this production cost difference, small scale farmers tend to experience low sales volumes, making them unable to compete against commercial scale farmers.
The solar powered feeding machine also helps in reducing the spread of human transmitted diseases by minimising human interaction with the chickens.
Human beings can act as vectors of disease such as the highly contagious avian flu also known as Bird flu or HPAI H5, which is a viral disease that affects wild birds and poultry.
Through the application of the Smart Chicken Feeder technology, chicken farmers will be able to reduce the number of fowl run visits when checking on stock feed levels in feeding containers. Whenever stock feed runs low, the farmer simply receives and SMS alert.
The Smart Chicken Feeder was exhibited at the just ended Zimbabwe Youth Agripreneurship Summit 2017 held last week at Celebration centre from 17 to 19 October.
This unique innovation resonates with United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number 9 and 13 which speak of “Building resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation and “Taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts respectively.