For many years, the united nations have been trying to achieve its second SDG, zero hunger, but couldn’t make it until today. The question is with the recent spread of hydroponics worldwide, can hydroponics improve food security?
So can hydroponics improve food security? Yes, hydroponics can help improve security worldwide. Hydroponics provides a higher production yield and lower water consumption when compared to soil; this makes it the ideal solution for improving food security, especially in third world countries.
One of the entities that detected the fantastic advantages of hydroponics is NASA. Hydroponic systems now are being developed by them to be able to provide food for astronauts in space. They are using hydroponics to improve food security in space, and they are winning at it. The time now has come for hydroponics to improve food security on earth.
Hydroponics Africa is a company that believes in the hydroponic’s ability to change the future. They have installed over 3700 hydroponics units to African farmers, which has changed their lives completely. They have worked in different African countries, including Tanzania, Somalia, Uganda, Kenya and Rowanda.
How Does Hydroponics Have Higher Yields Than Soil?
When plants are grown in soil, they use a lot of energy on root growth to reach more water and nutrient sources. On the other hand, plants grown using hydroponic systems don’t use their energy on root development as the water and nutrients supply is already present. The saved energy instead is used for producing more yield and tastier crops. Moreover, hydroponic plants experience a higher growth curve and denser vegetation when compared to soil.
Most of the hydroponic systems are indoor. Growing indoor has made it less prone to pests infection, it still can happen, but it has a much lower chance. Another perk of indoor growing is that the growers can modify most growth factors to the optimum. Growers can adjust their growing lights to the optimum light spectrum required at a particular life stage. Not only can they control growing lights, but factors like carbon dioxide and temperature can be regulated too. By optimizing the previous growth factors, plants can be at its maximum growth rate almost all the time.
I think that integrating hydroponics and vertical farming together, can double the advantages that we get from hydroponics. By using verticle farming, growers can enjoy a multiplied final yield using the same growing square area. Verticle farming increases the average yield per square meter, which is way more efficient than regular hydroponics. It can be a fantastic viable method for home growers who have limited space for growing. Furthermore, seeing things like a massive commercial farm in the middle of a city can be a normal thing in the future.
Also, hydroponic systems will make crops present all year round. By growing in a controlled environment, growers can produce crops no matter what is the season of the year. As a result, there will be no more price fluctuations in crops prices.
Hydroponics For third World Countries
The use of hydroponics in third world countries like Africa can significantly enhance their economic state and improve their food security. Africa has been known for its hunger that has spread to over 70% of its population. Organizations like the united nations have heavily invested their efforts trying to improve Africa’s food security, but these efforts have not yet achieved a remarkable result.
Local organizations have been founded to try and help in the food security issue. Hydroponics Africa is a company that started in 2013 intending to help African farmers produce high yield crops that can be used to feed their animals. This yield has helped them decrease their animal’s food costs dramatically. So far, it has installed 3700 hydroponic systems and trained over 5000 farmers on how to use their systems.
I genuinely believe in the power of simple hydroponic solutions. By having not complicated and easy to implement designs, it can be easier to be adopted by average third world country farmers. Of course, these systems are not as efficient as the advanced hydroponic systems, but they still produce high yields with lower water consumption. I think that the critical factor for the spreading of these simple designs is the materials used. The used materials must be simple materials that can be found locally in most of the cities.
In some situations, materials cant be found locally. Recycling waste products can be the perfect fit for these situations. By using plastic wastes like PVC pipes and water bottles, you can protect the environment, and at th same time, build a hydroponic system that is cost-efficient and can improve the food security of the farmer’s family.
Moreover, their food waste can then be used for vermicompost formation. By producing the vermicompost, they can make a compost tea, which is an organic alternative of the chemical nutrient solutions that are present in developed countries.
How Automation Will Solve World Hunger?
It is known across all the industries that automation will completely revolutionize the way thing work. Automation will decrease the amount of labour needed to complete a life cycle of a crop; this will lead to a huge decrease in operating costs. The drop in operating costs will lead to a huge boost in the profit margin of the hydroponic facilities.
Operation costs will not only be affected by automation but also with the integration of clean solar energy. With the development of solar energy, electricity bills will be dropped dramatically. Almost 80% of the monthly costs of any hydroponic farm goes to power companies. So this solar integration will significantly lower the monthly operational expenses.
In 2030, I think that there will be a massive change in the manufacturing of hydroponic equipment. Like all the industries, the manufacturing of hydroponic equipment will reach a particular phase where the prices will be severely lowered due to mainstream mass production. Hydroponic systems will be sold at a fraction of today’s cost; Which will decrease the starting costs significantly. As a result, the barrier of entry to the hydroponics industry will be severely lowered that it will allow new entrepreneurs to enter the market.
Having a low entry barrier and high scalability will make the hydroponic industry as attractive as tech industry nowadays. Therefore the number of new hydroponic farms created each year will skyrocket. By increasing the hydroponic farms, global food production will improve dramatically. Off course, this will lead to higher competition between key market players. But I think that it will go to the benefit of the consumer in the end. Increasing competition means that hydroponic farms will have to lower their prices to stay competitive, this means that families who couldn’t afford particular types of food can now afford it easily thanks to hydroponics.
Where is hydroponics used today? Hydroponic systems are used worldwide. The most critical area that depends on hydroponics to change it is Africa. This is due to the presence of both water scarcity and hunger, and hydroponics happens to solve these crucial problems more than soil cultivation.
How does hydroponics increase food production? Plants use energy on root growth to reach more water and nutrient supplies. Hydroponic plants don’t spend energy on root growth as the water sources already present. The saved energy is then used to increase growth and produce more crop yield.