The journey begins at the VIA factory in Pretoria, South Africa. Scaling up innovative technology is more than simply providing resources to repeat the pilot many times.
The challenge of producing a unique, highly accurate, low cost soil moisture sensor at mass scales has taken many years to solve. This factory has now produced over 50,000 sensors for customers in over 20 countries.
Since 2016, VIA products have been implemented on over 60 schemes and to more than 1500 farmers across the entire length and breadth of Malawi.
We spent some time getting to know just a few of them. The stories they tell are indicative of those told by thousands of farmers across Malawi and the world.
Women all over the world play a vital role in agriculture but often feel powerless and unheard. VIA has helped transform the lives of women farmers and their communities by allowing them to solve problems and reduce conflict.
This is one of the most appreciated, and unexpected, impacts we have experienced.
Increasing the knowledge and capacity of partner organisations within developing countries is a key principle of VIA. At the invitation of the Malawi government, and in collaboration with a local small business, Mechro Limited, VIA has established a sensor production facility in Blantyre, Malawi.
By doing this it has allowed the Malawi government to include these products as part of its plans for irrigation development within the country. This example of public-private partnership will increase the use of the tools throughout the country and assist farmers to increase their productivity and adapt to climate changes.