Hydroponics introduction for Gambian women groups
At Kairoh garden in the Gambia (https://kairohgarden.com/kairoh-garden-foundation/) students from Delft introduced hydroponics technology at a school and at the inner of the country at community gardens for women groups. Hydroponics offers opportunities for the Gambia because there is only rainfall for three months. Hydroponics is a system that saves water.
The assignment of the students has been to teach entrepreneurship at the school and build a hydroponic system together with the students. In the next step this hydroponics system has been adapted and introduced to the women groups inside the country.
The system is small but suitable for testing and getting used to the technology. On top of that it has been produced with local materials at low costs. An important question has been: which design can function in such a way that it can also be reproduced at low cost? Another issue is the introduction of the right NPK fertilizers.
From the conclusion of the students: “Our opinion is that hydroponics is a great solution for a lot of problems that women at the community gardens are facing, such as water shortage, weeds and tough work. However, we have encountered some limitations as well. We think hydroponics could be successful if the following conditions are met:
– Nutrients have to be easily available and not too expensive.
– The hydroponic system cannot contain a pump.
– Users should handle the hydroponic system with care and be accurate.
– One motivating factor for using hydroponics is higher yields to make revenue out of this. The gap between harvesting and going to the market should be bridged first, otherwise it is not attractive for women to start with hydroponics.
– There are two chicken-egg problems that have to be solved. First, the women will only want to try hydroponics if the needed resources are easily available. However, someone will only want to start a business in nutrients and other materials for hydroponics if hydroponics seems to be a success and there are customers for this. Second, women will get higher revenues using hydroponics, but have to invest in nutrients and other materials for this with money they do not have.”