President Uhuru Kenyatta celebrated a number of heroes and heroines, among them, two Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) youthful alumni innovators as Kenya marked Mashujaa Day, October 20, 2020.
The president recognized efforts by Kenneth Gicira and Micheal Mwaisakenyi, among the young people he described as important drivers of the country’s development in matters innovation.
The two JKUAT Mechatronic Engineering alumni who graduated November last year (2019) were recognized for their Weeding Bot innovation.
While acknowledging the duo for their efforts, President Kenyatta said a good starting point for the young people is to look for a problem, solve it, and emerge as heroes and ‘makers of things’.
Among the three groups celebrated by the President during his Mashujaa Day speech, he said, “The second one is that of two engineering students from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT). The two, Michael Mwaisakenyi and Ken Gicira, created an automated weeding robot to help farmers eliminate the need for herbicides in their crops.”
The President further said, with the examples of the National Security Programme, weeding robot and the smart glove, it is clear that Kenya has a pool of talented and gifted young people.
“Where these transformative innovations came from, there are many more. All we need to do is look. And if our national attention moves to the search for solutions, our natural energy will flow to a positive place,” said President Kenyatta.
The recognition follows an earlier triumph that saw Gicira and Mwaisakenyi emerge winners of the One Hack-A-thon, an online global challenge beating over 40 teams from 20 different world countries.
While congratulating the two for being celebrated by the President, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi said JKUAT has a pool of innovative and brilliant minds demonstrated by Gicira and Mwaisakenyi, with the capacity of delivering solutions to the challenges facing the country and region at large.
The two, dubbed The Knights, were also winners of the 2020 Imagine Cup European, Middle Eastern, and African (EMEA) regional final, and became the 1st African Team at Imagine Cup World Championship with their Innovation.
The Weeding Bot uses artificial intelligence to identify and remove weeds from rows of crops. The innovation uses cameras as sensors to gather input from the environment and eliminate farmers’ need to use environmentally harmful pesticides in their weeding.
Elated about the recognition, Gicira said, “I am really glad that we caught the attention of the President of the Republic of Kenya. This is a true testament of the work Mike and I have put in to come up with the Weeding Bot.”
According to Gicira, the Weeding Bot is not only safe, affordable and efficient but also ensures that agricultural produce are free from herbicides that are harmful to the consumer.
Going forward, the duo is in the process of piloting their innovation and are targeting 10 farmers using 7 weeding bots.
On his part, Mwaisakenyi corroborates that the weeding bot will be instrumental in reducing environmental pollution caused by herbicides while still increasing crop yield, thus improving food security in the country.