SinoScan UK newsletter article

Growing crops in impossible places – how manufacturers are solving the food shortage crisis

SinoScan UK newsletter article

Growing crops in impossible places – how manufacturers are solving the food shortage crisis

 

H2Grow – a ground-breaking project supported by the United Nation’s World Food Programme – is using hydroponic technology to help civilians grow their own crops in previously impossible conditions.

From the mid-Sahara desert to the harsh climate of Chad – H2Grow has already helped over 5000 individuals in several countries in a bid to tackle to the worldwide food shortage crisis.

In this month’s blog, SinoScan explores how the technology works and its vision for the years to follow:

How the technology works

H2Grow uses hydroponics – a method of growing plants in a water-based solution, along with other nutrients. Unlike other farming methods, hydroponics doesn’t require soil and instead uses a root system supported using local materials such as such as perlite, rockwool or clay pellets. What’s more, scientists at H2Grow have estimated that their system uses 90% less water than traditional agricultural methods!

While this technology itself isn’t new, the technology has historically only been used by large, high-tech corporates. However, thanks to H2Grow, it’s hoped that the technology can be brought to the everyday farmer, in a bid to help increase food production in difficult-to-maintain environments.

 

Advantages

Working with the WJP to build relationships with individuals in the community, H2Grow’s scientists are able to build a highly-personalised experience that takes into account the unique demands of each environment.  The result is a tailor-made hydroponic system that’s allows civilians to grow crops in a much more affordable way, thanks to funding provided by the WJP partnership.

What’s more, H2Grow requires minimal amounts of land – meaning it can be used pretty much anywhere!

Using H2Grow, civilians in Western Algeria have been able to grow barley grass to feed their livestock, in turn increasing milk production and meat quality. In Peru, women have been able to build their H2Grow system to grow nutritious vegetables in urban slums, to generate income and feed their families.

Finally, H2Grow hydroponics gives farmers 100% control of the process. Individuals control everything, from temperature and humidity to light intensification and the composition of the air; thus resulting in higher quality crops and the ability to farm all year round.

Disadvantages

Perhaps the greatest obstacle which can put farmers off investing is the initial cost of infrastructure. However, as mentioned earlier on, funding provided by the WJP has made H2Grow a lot more affordable.

Hydroponic technologies also require constant monitoring. Maintaining the delicate balance of nutrients, water, light etc. requires quite a bit of practise, so it can take time before farmers start to notice a profitable impact.

What’s more, because water is filtered and cycled throughout the entire hydroponics system, this can make the spread of disease a lot easier.  Entire crops can therefore be lost, so it’s important that proper risk control procedures are in place.

H2Grow is a certainly an exciting development in the bid to help the world food shortage crisis and is one of many technologies that forms part of the United Nation’s World Food Programme – which aims to eliminate world hunger by 2030. It seems that there are no limits for where H2Grow can go, so we look forward to seeing how the technology grows over the next few years!

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