This week we talk to several students who are playing an important role in meeting our society’s basic challenges and bringing about tangible, positive changes. Within many societies, youth perform a vital role and they help to efficiently maximize productivity. Accordingly, we present you today Mai- Nefhi students who have introduced an Automated Greenhouse prototype.
- -You all are from the department of…?
- -What inspired you to start such project?
First of all, our society is predominantly agricultural-based and our nation is following a policy of self-sufficiency. Accordingly, we intend to increase productivity qualitatively and quantitatively via an Automated Greenhouse effect.
- -Tell me more….
This project is an Automated Greenhouse over smart floor culture. Specifically, it is to be an automated system underneath the greenhouse and around the house. It has a controlling room, where manual and automatic maintenance can be handled. As a developing nation, the only resource we lack at the moment is not manpower, not natural resources, not land or capital, but sophisticated technology. The big nations of the world have this advantage over us. The idea is to utilize this technology in the Greenhouse and increase the productivity of flowers and consumable productions.
- -How does your project run efficiently and effectively?
The prototype is thought to work in a coordinated way, meaning that the necessary elements are in line with nature and man-made infrastructure. The point is, when the house needs to light the growing production inside, natural light direct from the sun is made to pass through the automatic sliding window that has a sensor to sense the day is breaking. And at night, it automatically shuts itself off. Based on our research, the temperature should be between 160c and 260c, ideal for flowers. So the project is designed to keep the temperature between the figures stated. For this to happen, we decided to equip the Greenhouse with a fan and a heater to balance the temperature. There is also the moisture sensor that controls the moisture of the soil that holds the plants. The sensor automatically detects the level of moisture in the soil and waters the soil if it is drying a bit and stops watering if the level is satisfactory. As well, this can be continuously monitored by portable devices, saving time and manpower.
- -Why did you choose this project?
This project has the potential to be profitable as well as economically feasible. Beyond our own research and similar projects, the manual on ground running greenhouse businesses are prospering well. Locally, the Asmara flowering greenhouse did return their expenses within two years, while globally, first world nations run their activities in technology-based environments. Accordingly, why not introduce such projects to compete locally and globally and have export standard plants throughout our region? As we all know, Eritrea has a long, unexploited coastline and a free zone that can connect us to the Middle East and the rest of the world.
- -How effective do you think it will be?
It is just a matter of investment towards the project. Companies like Asmara Flowers are running at capacity and still productive. Add such automated technology to them and the results would be not hard to imagine. We are thinking of introducing it in a circuit design way for similar type sizes to those of the Asmara Flowers.
- -What else does the project possess?
Another feature of our technology is that we have developed a camera system that detects labor intensive tasks. The leaves that need to be plucked away from every plant are managed to be witnessed by the cameras. If the labor has to walk over all the Greenhouse, it will be tedious and time consuming. Yet the cameras are put in every spot of the house and send feedback to the control room, thus minimizing effort and increasing productivity. It is done through the pager communication with the control room and is just like text messaging. Specifically, sub-managers receive a light-coded message that then directs the staff to do specific tasks around where they stand inside the house.
- -What about potential system failures?
We are highly confident in our work. It is made to be error free, yet problems and challenges are inevitable to arise. The system allows for manual override and lets the manager integrate the system manually at urgent times.
- -Is it a research-based project?
Of course! We have incorporated important feedback from Asmara Flowers. We integrated things to resolve shortcomings and introduced our own methodologies to advance productivity. The matter is going through efficiently to achieve maximum effectiveness.
- -Length of time from initial idea to final prototype?
We have been taking our regular fifth-year lessons at Mai-Nefhi and simultaneously working on our project for almost eight months.
- -What are the next steps?
It is all about funds. We hope and expect individuals and organizations to be interested and support such optimistic and important projects. Of course, we will strive on our own as well, because we have received appreciative comments and useful feedback from many people.
- -Let us hope for the best! Any messages for the community, particularly the youth?
We are literate citizens and we are expected to come up with such work. The most impressive thing I have noticed in the festival and during other times is the growing participation of females in the field of technology and innovation. They should be assisted and given support. When we wanted to start our project we considered our nation’s great dependence on agriculture – nearly 80% – and the potential public benefits. Our project, we hope, can enhance productivity, support economic growth, and promote sustainability.