Limpopo local Tsedzuluso Netshimbupfe recently won R 900 000 at the SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards for his innovative intelligent farming solution.

Tsedzuluso is the founder of Farmru, an agri-tech system for smart farming that monitors the environment and executes tasks using a low-cost micro controller. The controller is connected to soil moisture, humidity and light sensors that monitor the environment and trigger automatic irrigation only when it is required. The system also collects data over time which can be used to determine the ideal conditions for a variety of crops.

Commenting on what he plans to do with his winnings, Tsedzuluso says: “The SAB Foundation funding will assist us in developing the system further and expanding our operations into rural farms throughout South Africa and Africa. We want Farmru to become a household name.”

Aims and achievements

The innovation was conceptualised in the rural area of Tshimbupfe which only has about 3 000 households and 18 000 inhabitants. The area is extremely dry and food security is a growing concern for villagers. The Farmru system was designed to assist by saving water and maintaining optimal soil quality for the production of healthy, thriving crops.

Ntandokazi Nodada, SAB Foundation Social Innovation Project Manager, explains: “Through our Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards, the SAB Foundation aims to help South Africa achieve the United Nations’ (UN’s) Global Sustainability Goals, one of which is to end hunger, as well as to achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. By helping rural farmers achieve optimal soil quality, whilst reducing their consumption of natural resources, Farmu is making a significant contribution to the achievement of this goal.”

To date, the SAB Foundation has committed over R75 million towards supporting and scaling social innovations that demonstrate a sustainable business model while solving a critical social problem. Including this year’s winners, 163 businesses have benefitted from their support.

To find out more about the SAB Foundation’s Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards visit www.sabfoundation.co.za or to find out more about Farmru, email tsedzu@manobi.co.za. –Press release

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