Sometimes you can travel half way around the world and still end up at your roots. Eric Maundu was born in Kenya to a family of farmers who struggled to grow crops in the arid conditions of East Kenya. He left to study electronics in Nairobi, eventually immigrating to United States 15 years ago. He learned computer science and worked for years in the high tech industry, but his job left him feeling empty.
“I always wanted to use technology to help people and food has always been a basic need.” Eric felt the best way he could help people was with knowledge. First he had to define the problem: how to grow food successfully. Aquaponics appealed to him because it’s a closed system that recycles water and uses fish waste to grow greens. He started his company Kijani Grows selling aquaponics and began teaching classes. He found himself so busy he was neglecting his own set-up. It occurred to him that the power of software could translate physical information to data and his idea of Smart Aquaponics was born.
Working with Linux Computers he designed a microprocessor to that allows him to check his system remotely via the internet. Using sensors he’s able to check water flow and quality, tank levels, oxygen and with an automatic fish feeder he can even feed his fish remotely. He now sells his smart systems to homes, schools and corporations and he promotes them as an educational tool. Since starting his business he’s found funding to be his biggest challenge. A big marketing push is next on his agenda. “Life’s too short to live for yourself,” he says. He hopes to spread the knowledge and get kids to bring technology to farming. Check out Kijani Grows.