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Smart greenhouses for Africa

SmartGFA: Smart greenhouses for Africa


In Africa, agribusiness has the potential to reduce poverty, increase food security and drive economic growth more than any other sector. Agriculture accounts for nearly half of the continent’s gross domestic product and employs 60% of the labour force. In addition, there are 33 million smallholder farms in sub-Saharan Africa, which contribute to up to 90% of total food production in some countries. In Kenya these represent 75% of the farmers. Farming in Kenya is considered one of the most important economic activities and the wellbeing of the entire country’s economy relies on it. 



This project has two main objectives; first, technological progress via greenhouse automation and big data to maximise crop yield and quality. The second objective is affordability to all farmers including low income farmers by incorporating system modularity and adapted financing solutions. The cost benefit of automation will be assessed for various scale of greenhouses considering farmer experience and specific socio-economic levels. SmartGFA project aims to take Africa's poor farmers into the digital age. This can be achieved by developing a modular system, integrating progressive knowledge transfer and developing sound financing solutions.


The SmartGFA project brings together two UK and three Kenyan partners to combine advanced sensor knowhow, machine-learning analytics and knowledge of local needs to develop a novel system that will allow smallholder farmers to achieve high-yield greenhouse farming at low cost, increasing their food security and allowing them to move from subsistence farming to cash crops.


Brunel Innovation Centres' Role:

To develop the architecture for data analytics using Machine Learning algorithm to be able to process the data that is gathered using the sensors and electronic system setup to analyse the greenhouse microclimate conditions, crop selection and suggest recommendations to user.

Project Partners:

  • Innvotek
  • Illuminum Greenhouses
  • Wefarm
  • Juhudi Kilimo
  • Brunel University London

For more information, please visit the following sites:

Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Professor Tat-Hean Gan
Professor Tat-Hean Gan - Professional Qualifications CEng. IntPE (UK), Eur Ing BEng (Hons) Electrical and Electronics Engg (Uni of Nottingham) MSc in Advanced Mechanical Engineering (University of Warwick) MBA in International Business (University of Birmingham) PhD in Engineering (University of Warwick) Languages English, Malaysian, Mandarin, Cantonese Professional Bodies Fellow of the British Institute of NDT Fellow of the Institute of Engineering and Technology Tat-Hean Gan has 10 years of experience in Non-Destructive Testing (NDT), Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) and Condition Monitoring of rotating machineries in various industries namely nuclear, renewable energy (eg Wind, Wave ad Tidal), Oil and Gas, Petrochemical, Construction and Infrastructure, Aerospace and Automotive. He is the Director of BIC, leading activities varying from Research and development to commercialisation in the areas of novel technique development, sensor applications, signal and image processing, numerical modelling and electronics hardware. His experience is also in Collaborative funding (EC FP7 and UK TSB), project management and technology commercialisation.

Related Research Group(s)

woman engineer

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Project last modified 12/10/2023