3 July 2018
Solomon Islands: Consider Hydroponic Methods for Food Security, Job creation and Potential Exports
My recent letters in the local SI media about hydroponic growing methods generated quite a number of enquiries asking about the techniques and the basic equipment needed for growing vegetables, salad crops and tomatoes to be used for home consumption and for sale.
The aim of my letters was to promote the idea of hydroponic cultivation in simple systems using water and a rich nutrient solution and without the need for soil.
The World Bank sees the potential for simplified hydroponic systems to enhance climate resilience while helping to create local jobs and fostering regional investment.
In the context of creating regional investment I would pose the question of the SIG what measures are being considered to improve the production of different farming methods in view of the need for food security and job creation, especially given the advance of climate change and salt water incursion in parts of the country?
Simplified hydroponics can be taught to farmers and individuals with no prior knowledge. Those farmers could generate income from small plots of land with vertical farm tools, even in urban areas. New jobs and farms supported by hydroponics contribute to a green economy and job security.
The methodology also creates opportunities for additional income in developing regions, including from personal experience in Swaziland, Kenya. In Kenya, in particular, there has been developed a world wide export market for the flowers it cultivates.
Given what I have said about the impact of climate change and the reduction in food crops in some parts of the country, I would urge the government to consider asking for help from countries that have extensive experience in hydroponic cultivation methods, including Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Israel and Kenya.
The UN recently gave a small grant to a resident of Kiribati most recently and he has successfully created a business from the units he made.
In the Solomon Islands get help with grass roots training and, if at all possible, provide subsidies for the basic equipment and inputs.
One commercial company that I know of in Singapore teaches the techniques of simple hydroponic cultivation using basic systems growing hygienic and high quality leafy vegetables and culinary herbs all year round for local consumption and exports.
I know that modern hydroponics on a commercial scale is likely to be outside the scope of affordability for many potential growers in the Solomons but much scope exists for smaller scale hydroponic cultivation.
I advocate looking at U-Tube to see the many simple hydroponics systems people use to successfully grow their produce, including black plastic bags, off-cut lengths of PVC tubing, plastic containers, plastic water bottles and even Styrofoam boxes with lids.
My partner charity, “Takes My Hands” (TMH) in New Zealand is exploring the possibility of acquiring some of the basic needs to commence hydroponics on a small scale and I hope to learn more soon.