Hydroponic farming, a method that involves growing plants in nutrient-rich water, rather than soil, appears to be one effective approach to crop production today.
CEO of Ridol Hydroponics, Mr. Richard Twum-Barimah Agyapong, posits that in an era where construction is eating a lot more into our arable lands, there is going to be very limited land resource to grow food in the years to come.
He notes that hydroponic farming could be the face change to agriculture, as the technique results in increased yield, and uses up relatively limited space. It also does not rely on depleting soil microbes and uses about ten percent less water than is used in cultivating on land.
“Hydroponics does not really favor root crops like cassava, carrot and the like. Even though it would work, it would need some other form(s) of technology integrated, because the roots of the crop are supposed to be submerged in water, which will be disadvantageous to such crops”, he said.
On cost-cutting, Mr. Agyapong admitted that the setup could be a bit expensive, though the initial cost pays off.
He explained that the crack method where pumps or electricity aren’t employed, could be used to cut down cost. He further added that, as service providers, they have been able to cut back on the cost of installation by more than 50%, by incorporating available local materials, hence making it affordable for smallholder farmers.
He also noted that the technology could be a good way to attract youth into agriculture, as they are attracted to activities that are innovative, aesthetic, and non-cumbersome.
“You see, this year, the rains failed farmers. So, say you’re a farmer who grows maize, and also have a hydroponics system used for vegetable cultivation, should your maize crop fail, your hydroponics remain intact, and won’t fail you because you control the system. These days, we talk much of climate change and climate-smart agriculture. We shouldn’t just be talking, we need to be actually doing something about it”, he said.
He concluded by saying the region is doing its bit in advocating for the widespread deployment of the technology, hoping it reaches the top.