Context: In Tanzania, over 70% of households raise chickens. For most of these farmers, chickens serve to supplement their diet and income, and represent an important store of value, much like a bank account. Lacking a way to predictably grow their flock, and with limited access to reliable grid power, these farmers seek an affordable, off-grid means of maintaining and growing their chicken investments.
Partner: Off Grid Electric is an African solar start up with a mission to bring clean energy to rural Tanzania and Rwanda. They provide small-scale home solar systems and appliances on a lease to own model. Interested in ensuring their customers could afford their system’s monthly payments, Off Grid Electric asked us to create a productive appliance - one that helps generate income - specific to chicken farming.
Big Idea: To create a reliable money-making machine for the large majority of Tanzanians who raise chickens. This involves an energy-efficient, solar powered egg incubator that will enable small-scale chicken farmers to have independence over the hatching process, increased revenue, and greater financial stability compared to their otherwise meager and volatile chicken farming income. The incubator must operate on an average of ≤5 watts, so it can be powered continuously from Off-Grid Electric’s 150Wh system while accounting for potential bouts of cloudy weather.
Impact: Using Kukua, rather than hens, to incubate eggs allows for uninterrupted egg production. For a farmer with 10 hens, this amounts to twice as many eggs produced, an increase of more than 12% in monthly household income, and the freedom to grow one’s flock resulting in strengthened financial security.
Current Status: The Kukua team is currently designing Kukua v3, an improved prototype that will incorporate feedback and lessons from the pilot testing conducted in Tanzania in August, 2017.
Team: Nick Azpiroz and Amy King (who were part of the original Extreme course team) along with Eric Reynolds Brubaker (a new team member after the course ended) have been continuing to work on the project over the 2017 summer through the Social E Lab. Former Extreme course team members include Leah Mosier and Stephanie Stillman.
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Check out a video of the team's work in Tanzania!