Sustainable farming has become the frontier of the growing agricultural sector by promoting innovative resources and technologies in farm activities. Hydroponics Africa Limited, an advocate of sustainable farming, utilizes a hydroponic technology that decreases the amount of water needed to grow healthy plants. Hydroponic systems use 80% less water than traditional farming methods through their use of a nutrient mineral solution rather than pure soil. This allows farmers and households to grow crops even in water-scarce regions. The technology is also very beneficial to farmers working in areas that do not have the ideal soil incubation and PH levels.
Hydroponics Africa Limited aims to distribute hydroponic systems in Kenya, especially in regions that do not have ideal plant growth conditions. The company has already embarked on this by implementing projects like the “Securing Water for Food” project, through which they were able to install hydroponic systems to 4,000 households. This project focused on households in rural areas, informal settlements, and refugee camps and it achieved significant impact, saving millions of litres of water, with a total yield of over 700,000 kg of produce.
Through another project that Hydroponics implemented in Northern Sudan, the company supported internally displaced people by installing over 300 hydroponic systems. Households organized themselves into groups and received between 10-15 hydroponic systems to grow vegetables for their consumption and business. As a result, these households were able to earn additional income and get fresh produce for their own consumption. Hydroponics Africa Limited continues to support these users in maintaining the systems as well as supply the users with nutrients and shade nets.
Despite the benefits of hydroponics technology, Hydroponics Africa Limited still faces a number of challenges as a business. Dr. Peter Chege, the CEO and Founder of Hydroponics Africa Limited, indicated that some of the key challenges facing the business include finding affordable capital to scale the business across the county and beyond; finding optimal distribution points to place their agronomists; limited access to capital by farmers to buy and maintain the hydroponic systems as well as low uptake of the technology, especially among farmers who prefer traditional farming methods.
Kenya Climate Ventures Limited (KCV) has provided capital to the company to enable the company to scale. Following this support, Hydroponics Africa Limited has seen its revenue increase five-fold. The company has also received technical support and business growth advisory to fine-tune its business strategies and increase operational efficiencies.
Going forward, Hydroponics Africa Limited plans to distribute hydroponic systems in five arid and semi-arid counties and increase the productivity of farmers in these counties. The company also plans to connect farmers to markets for the products that the farmers produce using hydroponic systems; increase the company’s efficiency in distributing hydroponic systems; partner with value addition companies and explore opportunities beyond the borders of Kenya in countries such as Sudan, Congo and Rwanda. Hydroponics Africa Limited is becoming a frontier in inventive farming with its ambitious plans, innovative farming technologies and aspirations to build a sustainable business.
By Christiane Amare Lemma