Urban Food Hubs Solution
Urban food hubs concept in urban slums to address food security demands, by utilizing bio-intensive, aquaponic, and hydroponic production.
Vegetable growing on troughs to maximize space
Aquaponics system shows how water moves from a water tank through an aeration device into the fish tanks. The waste water is then passed through a process to separate solids through a solid waste drum, then through a biofilter that assists in nutrient conversion. The nutrient rich water is then circulated into flow beds that hold plants.
Lettuce grown using hydroponics
Plant holding troughs which maximizes space
Flow bed where plants grow on water that is enriched with nutirents from fish tanks.
Fish tanks, each can hold upto 650 fishes, that are matured for sale within 3-6 months.
Solar powered water well pump
EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA
This idea solves the problem of food insecurity in urban slums through high efficiency food production sites that utilizes bio-intensive, aquaponic, and hydroponic production methods. With extreme climate changes, food security is a major issue that needs to be addressed in order to have food to feed the millions of people in urban slums during major climatic changes.
This idea hopes to replicate UDC's Urban Food Hub's concept which focuses on water management, waste reduction, and reuse through composting, food security, and minimizing pressure on urban land and infrastructure systems.
UDC can provide the technology, training and expertise to locals/private sector on how to build these models, and slum dwellers can provide the labor which addresses job creation.
Hydroponics is a method of growing large amounts of vegetables/plants in water with no soil, in limited space and reduced growing time. An aquaponics system allows the growth of tilapia and vegetables in a self-sustaining closed loop system. Using a aquaponics systems eliminates the need for commercial fertilizers (harmful to the environment) because fish tank water is used as fertilizer. It also uses only 10% of the water used to grow plants in soil. The use of a solar well pump creates self-sufficiency by generating its own power for irrigation and fertigation.
All slum dwellers will be able to register to purchase food through a food plan depending on the household size. Credit options could be offered.
The urban slum dwellers benefit from food security, job creation, economic development and environmental sustainability. The environment is protected by the use of solar energy, and organic compost instead of chemicals. This idea can be implemented in areas that have pockets of urban slum dwellings, many in second and third tier cities in Kenya, where there is some space. This will sustain agricultural farming in urban cities as opposed to relying on rural farming, and engage young people.
HOW DOES YOUR IDEA TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE CONTEXT OF URBAN SLUMS AND CLIMATE CHANGE?
(12/17/15 Update) Using sustainable agricultural methodologies like Urban Food Hubs focuses on techniques to increase food productivity in smaller, urban land areas, while limiting the use of commercial chemical fertilizers and toxic chemicals for pest control which can have harmful effects on the environment and human health.
If we can utilize the resources provided by agencies such as USTDA to provide feasibility studies and pilot projects, and USAID's Feed the Future program in partnership with local private sector, local NGO's and local government can help ensure food security given the scarcity of resources and changing climate. By utilizing the technology and expertise from UDC's Muirkirk Research Farm to help replicate this concept in Kenya and once successful, it will address the most basic need for families and individuals to have a reliable source of quality food for consumption.
This idea also takes into account the context of low-income settlement areas allowing for the possibility of farming in the city, solar water management, food security, and job creation in the urban slums.
Once proven, this concept could also engage nearby colleges/universities specializing in agriculture, by incorporating it as part of their academic curriculum, and to get hands on practice on real urban farming as is done at UDC.
Engaging local communities who identify with sustaining urban agriculture such as NGO's to facilitate the management and implementation, and the private sector including churches and social groups can provide the market and labor and buy in.
Yes, for two or more years
I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for at least two years
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF
Global Development Consulting Professional, with an MBA in Global Management & MA in Global Affairs
Specialties: Agribusiness, Economic development, Social Entrepreneur.
Eastern Africa Diaspora Business Council, Associate
IS THIS A NEW OR RECENT IDEA FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION? HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM WHAT YOU ARE ALREADY DOING?
(12/17/15 Update) This is a new idea for me, although it adds to a few other ideas I have to improve socio-economic development in Africa. There is proof of this concept currently implemented by UDC in their Muirkirk Research Farm. UDC has signed a few agreements with African leaders through USDA-ARS to develop a leadership curricula and provide training through PPPs. Additionally, I have been involved with agribusiness, promoting Kenyan tea products in the global marketplace for 4 yrs now (www.kaptea.com). So naturally, when I took a tour of the Muirkirk farm, I was immediately drawn to it and thought about the idea of replicating it in places in Africa that could really benefit from growing Urban food hubs to tackle food shortages in Urban cities.
I currently do pro-bono consulting for global development and volunteer with EADBC to engage diaspora resources to promote trade and investment btw the US and East African countries. So I am fully committed to this project and scaling it.
HOW IS YOUR IDEA DIFFERENT FROM OTHER SIMILAR INITIATIVES? WHAT ARE YOU DOING DIFFERENTLY? WHAT UNIQUE ADVANTAGES DO YOU HAVE?
(12/20/15 Update) The unique advantage is that this idea has a proof of concept that is thriving and successful at UDC. This concept also tackles multiple development challenges all at the same time. That includes mass production of food crops and fish in minimal spaces. This concept utilizes water very efficiently, and therefore very little amount of water is used for maximum production. This entails reusing the water bi-product from the fish tanks to fertilize the plants as illustrated in the aquaponic loop system drawing. Because the plant loop and fish loop are connected manually, it allows for the flexibility of growing a wider variety of healthy food plants for consumption. This flexibility in the system also reduces energy use and operating costs. The flow bed system can produce 1500 pounds of fish in two 500 gallon tanks, and 10,000 pounds of vegetables. This idea also provides an opportunity for job creation for the local slum dwellers, because they are able to provide labor needed to maintain the greenhouses. This idea is unique because it creates a sustainable ecosystem that generates food and jobs for the community as well as sustaining agricultural farming technigues.
Vegetables grown in green house
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR IDEA?
12/20/15 Update) Some of the unanswered questions are:
-Can this concept be scaled to cover many low income settlements in the region?
-Can this be scaled to the point of franchising/licensing to other regions?
One answer is to start small, and apply agile techniques as we progress along the way.
WHY DO YOU THINK THE PROBLEM YOUR IDEA SOLVES FOR HASN'T BEEN SOLVED YET?
(12/20/15 Update) This concept of greenhouses exists but not in an urban community context. Most greenhouses are built by private farmers in their own estates/land, but not for community development in low-income settlements. This would be a new concept, and one that can be scaled up and could produce abundance of food and jobs for dwellers transitioning into the job market as they gain useful and transferrable skills. Engaging the community especially the youth in technical colleges/universities and churches as stakeholders will create sustainability because of their vested interest in engaging young people in urban agricultural techniques that is essential as cities become more populated.
HOW HAS YOUR IDEA CHANGED BASED ON FEEDBACK FROM YOUR COMMUNITY?
Based on feedback from team & Kenyan locals, there has been some changes to the initial plan. We came to understand that slums are transitional homes for people migrating into urban cities, as they look for jobs. So most people who live in slums tend to live there for 6 months - 1 year, and as their financial situation gets better, they move into better low income settlements (which are still slums). So there are different types of slums, ones that are really basic, to those that have some amenities like piped water. Because these low-income settlements (slums) are clustered around affluent neighborhoods, we decided that the Food Hub project will be located offsite at a location that is central enough to employ the slum dwellers. This will be explained in further detail in the implementation stage.
We also learned that there existing greenhouses springing up and that this could be a good opportunity to learn from their best practices, or perhaps even partner up. The fact that there are such projects that have successfully built greenhouses, shows that this project can in fact be implemented, but with a social impact aspect to it as well as the use of different and advanced technology and underserved community engagement. These communities include training youth who have the highest population in urban cities, to engage in urban agricultural farming, include transitioning slum dwellers looking to get trade skills, and local church groups who are eager to volunteer.
WHAT WOULD YOU ULTIMATELY LIKE TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS IDEA? WHAT IS YOUR NEXT STEP TO GET THERE?
Next step is to seek partnership with UDC research Farm's expertise and resources to replicate their concept. The longview is to create a self-sustaining urban agriculture ecosystem in some of the urban cities in Kenya. To dispel the notion that farming only takes place in rural areas, and not cities. And considering that many young people reside in urban cities while the older population in rural areas practice farming is unsustainable, because we need to get the youth/young involved in agriculture by introducing urban farming.
Ultimately, I would like this idea to engage underserved communities in urban cities in sustainable urban farming and not depend on rural agriculture farming.
Please see reply to Chuomo's question about feedback from the experts. This will give more details on the implementation of this project.
How does your idea connect to the broader system of the city where you plan to implement?
As shown in our illustration, this project will engage different stakeholders in the urban communities, including low income settlements, social groups, NGO's, technical/educational institutions, and the private sector. How they are engaged is as follows;
The project located offsite (a site near a cluster of low-income settlements) will employ slum dwellers who are looking for work, and need transferable skills. Because theses settlements tend to be transitional for most dwellers until they get better jobs and move to proper housing, this will provide a platform for them. Engaging youth from colleges to learn and sustain agricultural farming methods will ensure food security for urban cities and not just rural areas. Engaging local communities and NGO's creates a support system for this concept, and will open up ways to scale the project. The private sector will also provide the market for the food products produced that is healthy and produce in an eco-friendly environment.