US supports hydroponics to revitalize Mideast food, water and security – Green Prophet

Visit to an hydroponic bell pepper farm

Growing crops without soil, otherwise known as hydroponic agriculture, is not a recent innovation. In fact, it can be traced back to ancient times and kingdoms like Babylonia, whose Hanging Gardens were said to have been created and nurtured by use of hydroponics.

The modern day Middle East, especially water-deprived countries like Jordan and Syria, has had on-going problems in that local agriculture cannot provide sufficient amounts of local food due to lack of sufficient water and arable land to grow crops. Other resource-rich countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates see hydroponics as the only solution for providing hyper local, fresh, nutritious food.

Jordan-hydroponics-eco-consult-a

As a result of this water scarcity problem, Jordan sees potential in hydroponic agricultural projects, which are said to use as much as 90 percent less water over conventional soil-based agriculture.

The Kingdom of Jordan is seeing commercial opportunities for local hydroponic farming and is getting some help from the USAID Hydroponic Green Farming Initiative (HGFI). Hydroponic agricultural projects growing vegetables by both hydroponic and organic methods were the subject of an event held in May 2015, where US Ambassador to Jordan Alice Wells featured these vegetables in an event with Jordanian governmental officials and local producers.

The event was aimed at showing how use of hydroponic growing techniques not only saves water resources but produces high quality yields as well. Ambassador Wells told the participants:

“The future of hydroponic farming techniques is bright in Jordan. Hydroponic farming techniques are well-suited toward maximizing Jordan’s scarce supply of water. From my visits to hydroponic farms in the Jordan Valley, I’ve seen that the potential to grow more produce through hydroponic techniques is significant, given the minimal additional investment required to implement them.”

vilsack-wells-jordan-2015-may_0

She added that hydroponic agriculture maximizes Jordan’s scarce water supplies. Her visits to hydroponic projects in the Jordan Valley indicate a good potential for this type of agriculture, with just a minimal additional investment required.

Chefs who attended the event were able to see the quality of the hydroponically-grown produce, which often uses no pesticides. Um Ali, who heads a woman’s agricultural cooperative in the north of Jordan, told the gathering that production of herbs like thyme is much better using hydroponic agriculture than by traditional soil methods:

“Our thyme production from hydroponic farming is far better than traditional soil farming. It uses much less water, which is scarce in Jordan. Our production is clean from soil diseases,” she said.

YouTube Preview Image

Building reliable markets for hydroponically-grown produce is equally important. The USAID program is designed to build greater awareness of the advantages of hydroponically-grown produce, and the chefs in attendance at the reception were able to experience first-hand the quality of produce from hydroponic fields. Developing strong domestic markets for produce will assist farmers in balancing the cyclical nature of produce grown for export.

Developing tools and an industry for hydroponics in the Middle East is just as important. Consider this super cool American company flux from New York powering up the entire industry by providing powerful monitors and controls for hydroponic farms, in the same way that Mobileye enables self-driving Tesla cars. The global market flux is tapping into will grow from about $19 billion today to $27 billion in 4 years. It’s a massive opportunity since there are few global players with no dominant, affordable solution for new businesses.

Jordan can and should be a part of that.

More about hydroponic agriculture in the Middle East:
Hydroponics in Qatar
Saudi Arabia’s OAXIS hydroponic food belt
Khalifa hydroponic farms paying off
Grow fresh food in the middle of Manhattan?
Hanging gardens of Babylon inspire water farming called hydroponics

Maurice Picow grew up in Oklahoma City, U.S.A., where he received a B.S. Degree in Business Administration. Following graduation, Maurice embarked on a career as a real estate broker before making the decision to make Aliyah to Israel. After arriving in Israel, he came involved in the insurance agency business and later in the moving and international relocation fields. Maurice became interested in writing news and commentary articles in the late 1990’s, and now writes feature articles for the The Jerusalem Post as well as being a regular contributor to Green Prophet. He has also written a non-fiction study on Islam, a two volume adventure novel, and is completing a romance novel about a forbidden love affair. Writing topics of particular interest for Green Prophet are those dealing with global warming and climate change, as well as clean technology – particularly electric cars. Maurice can be reached at maurice (at) greenprophet (dot) com.

View the original article here

Advertisements

US supports hydroponics to revitalize Mideast food, water and security – Green Prophet

Visit to an hydroponic bell pepper farm

Growing crops without soil, otherwise known as hydroponic agriculture, is not a recent innovation. In fact, it can be traced back to ancient times and kingdoms like Babylonia, whose Hanging Gardens were said to have been created and nurtured by use of hydroponics.

The modern day Middle East, especially water-deprived countries like Jordan and Syria, has had on-going problems in that local agriculture cannot provide sufficient amounts of local food due to lack of sufficient water and arable land to grow crops. Other resource-rich countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates see hydroponics as the only solution for providing hyper local, fresh, nutritious food.

Jordan-hydroponics-eco-consult-a

As a result of this water scarcity problem, Jordan sees potential in hydroponic agricultural projects, which are said to use as much as 90 percent less water over conventional soil-based agriculture.

The Kingdom of Jordan is seeing commercial opportunities for local hydroponic farming and is getting some help from the USAID Hydroponic Green Farming Initiative (HGFI). Hydroponic agricultural projects growing vegetables by both hydroponic and organic methods were the subject of an event held in May 2015, where US Ambassador to Jordan Alice Wells featured these vegetables in an event with Jordanian governmental officials and local producers.

The event was aimed at showing how use of hydroponic growing techniques not only saves water resources but produces high quality yields as well. Ambassador Wells told the participants:

“The future of hydroponic farming techniques is bright in Jordan. Hydroponic farming techniques are well-suited toward maximizing Jordan’s scarce supply of water. From my visits to hydroponic farms in the Jordan Valley, I’ve seen that the potential to grow more produce through hydroponic techniques is significant, given the minimal additional investment required to implement them.”

vilsack-wells-jordan-2015-may_0

She added that hydroponic agriculture maximizes Jordan’s scarce water supplies. Her visits to hydroponic projects in the Jordan Valley indicate a good potential for this type of agriculture, with just a minimal additional investment required.

Chefs who attended the event were able to see the quality of the hydroponically-grown produce, which often uses no pesticides. Um Ali, who heads a woman’s agricultural cooperative in the north of Jordan, told the gathering that production of herbs like thyme is much better using hydroponic agriculture than by traditional soil methods:

“Our thyme production from hydroponic farming is far better than traditional soil farming. It uses much less water, which is scarce in Jordan. Our production is clean from soil diseases,” she said.

YouTube Preview Image

Building reliable markets for hydroponically-grown produce is equally important. The USAID program is designed to build greater awareness of the advantages of hydroponically-grown produce, and the chefs in attendance at the reception were able to experience first-hand the quality of produce from hydroponic fields. Developing strong domestic markets for produce will assist farmers in balancing the cyclical nature of produce grown for export.

Developing tools and an industry for hydroponics in the Middle East is just as important. Consider this super cool American company flux from New York powering up the entire industry by providing powerful monitors and controls for hydroponic farms, in the same way that Mobileye enables self-driving Tesla cars. The global market flux is tapping into will grow from about $19 billion today to $27 billion in 4 years. It’s a massive opportunity since there are few global players with no dominant, affordable solution for new businesses.

Jordan can and should be a part of that.

More about hydroponic agriculture in the Middle East:
Hydroponics in Qatar
Saudi Arabia’s OAXIS hydroponic food belt
Khalifa hydroponic farms paying off
Grow fresh food in the middle of Manhattan?
Hanging gardens of Babylon inspire water farming called hydroponics

Maurice Picow grew up in Oklahoma City, U.S.A., where he received a B.S. Degree in Business Administration. Following graduation, Maurice embarked on a career as a real estate broker before making the decision to make Aliyah to Israel. After arriving in Israel, he came involved in the insurance agency business and later in the moving and international relocation fields. Maurice became interested in writing news and commentary articles in the late 1990’s, and now writes feature articles for the The Jerusalem Post as well as being a regular contributor to Green Prophet. He has also written a non-fiction study on Islam, a two volume adventure novel, and is completing a romance novel about a forbidden love affair. Writing topics of particular interest for Green Prophet are those dealing with global warming and climate change, as well as clean technology – particularly electric cars. Maurice can be reached at maurice (at) greenprophet (dot) com.

View the original article here

Establishing Food Security in Alaska – The Indoor Growing Chapter

facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

2015 has been a year of centennial celebration, which also brings the responsibility of hindsight reflection and steering into the future with prosperous goals to make our city and state a great place to live, work and play.

VHH team recently attended a panel discussion at the Anchorage Hilton Hotel focusing on Alaska’s economic history and possibilities for the future. The panelists included Margie Brown, former President & CEO of CIRI; Larry Cash, founder, President & CEO of RIM Architects; and Dr. Rashmi Prasad, Dean of the College of Business and Public Policy at the University of Alaska Anchorage. With oil prices looming at the bottom of the barrel, part of the discussion was centered around creating comparisons, but focusing on contrasts between Anchorage in the 1980s and Anchorage now. Another part was to acknowledge tough times ahead as the state restructures its budget and revenue sources in attempt to grow other industries. So where do we start? Margie Brown made an insightful point about generating revenue via value added services. What she was saying is that there is much higher chance for success to create revenue by expanding on existing industries rather than starting from scratch. Not to say that it’s impossible to get started in a new industry, and perhaps, the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), is one such example. And even then, with a healthy aviation industry, UAS development is getting a jump start in areas of workforce availability and research.

But nevertheless, to expand more on Margie’s comment, we see this opportunity as a

1. Dissecting an industry into its parts and exploiting each part in a commercially viable manner

Example a: A new start up company Tidal Vision from Juneau, Alaska recently raised $55,664 USD with 764 backers on Kickstarter, with their goal being $17,500. Their pitch is “Upcycling fishery waist to encourage sustainable fishing”.

2. Assessing which industries enjoy high demand, but aren’t at capacity due to low supply.

Example: Agricultural sector, specifically produce.

Did you know that about 95-98% of food in Alaska is imported? According to the 2013 Alaska Economic Performance Report, agriculture represents only 1% of the state’s gross domestic product, which is about $30M. This number includes other ag. products such as farm animals and associated products and not just crops, which account for about 80%. These total agricultural cash receipts account for only 2 to 5 % of Alaska’s overall food needs. So some questions are: How much of the 95-98% of food can be satisfied by Alaska grown products? Is there a demand for locally grown products? The exciting thing is that we see several indicators showing a growing demand for local produce:

According to The Organic & Natural 2014, national syndicated research by the Hartman Group, ” ’local’ is emerging as a category poised to surpass both organic and natural as a symbol of transparency and trust.”Even the federal government is getting on board. Recognizing that demand for locally grown produce is rising, they have created a Local Foods, Local Places assistance program, which will for the second year select several communities around the nation to receive this funding. This year, together, EPA, USDA, CDC, DOT, ARC, and DRA are investing $800,000 in this round of Local Foods, Local Places.A steady increase in the number of farmers markets nation wide (from 4,685 in 2008 to 8,144 in 2013,) and in Alaska (43 listed) in 2015.What about products sold directly to individuals for human consumption? In Alaska in 2007 there were 149 farms (22% of AK farms) with $1.68 million in sales. In 2012 those numbers rose to 241 farms (32% of AK farms) with $2.23 million in sales.15% of Alaska’s farms reported $2.2 million in direct sales to retailers. This is third in the nation behind Hawaii and Vermont. The U.S average was 2.3%.For retailers around the nation, carrying local produce represents an opportunity to not only meet consumer demand, but also simultaneously decrease produce waste and increase margins. Food waste due to shrink and spoilage is a huge cost to retailers. Not to mention the attractiveness of meeting social responsibility targets and differentiating themselves that support for local farmers brings.For 26 years, the Alaska Grown Program has increased in size656 Alaska Grown producers as of 2013

Even with a rising popularity of local produce, our local farmers aren’t able to meet the demand, whilst the population has to rely on produce that’s been trucked/flown/barged from places like California or Arizona.

So we have high and increasing demand, low supply type situation.

One of the biggest culprits is the inability to grow year round. This is precisely why indoor growing productions are becoming increasingly popular. For a food desert place like Alaska, indoor growing can make a huge impact on economic and social platforms of our state. Indoor agriculture technology exists now and that is something we can take advantage of today. Vertical Harvest Hydroponics was founded on principals of alleviating food shortage and ensuring food security for our state and for those who live in geographically challenging regions. We manufacture containerized farms (CGS- Containerized Growing Unit), that have the ability to grow a variety of leafy greens and culinary herbs, hydroponically and without soil. Using a CGS, YOU can become a local producer and grow on-site. This means harvesting greens just in time for your dinner plate or for sale. This means not sacrificing nutrient quality to the supply chain. This means food security for our state.

Alaska may not be the Salinas Valley of California, but with recent weather patterns and overpopulation, Salinas Valley is changing as well. With our challenges, come many opportunities. We are one of the states that can benefit the most from a reliable internal food source – thus we must be on the forefront of the “growing local” movement.

While Alaska’s agricultural sector is comparatively small and we are working on expanding access to local foods, we can celebrate the individual size of our vegetables, the record setting giants that our state is known for:

19-pound carrot, 76-pound rutabaga, 127-pound cabbage, 39-pound turnip, 106-pound kale, 65-pound cantaloupe, 97-pound kohlrabi, and 63-pound celery. Wow, that’s a year’s worth of salad.

How does kale get to be so huge? It’s a bit monstrous, no? Maybe that will be our Halloween costumes this year. I’ll go as the unstoppable 106-pound kale, Dan can be the hard as nails 127-pound cabbage and Cameron will surely pull off the 97-pound mean kohlrabi, all muscle.

Come back and check out our next blog post. That’s it for now.

The team at VHH

facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

View the original article here