GWERU: In the backyard of a house in one of Gweru’s oldest suburbs, Ascot, a 44-year-old mother of two is using hydroponics to grow vegetables.
Shelter Saidi had always wanted to practice farming but water shortages had disadvantaged her.
In her community, they go for long hours without tap water and are sometimes forced to fetch water a kilometer away amid being in an urban setting.
A few months ago, through assistance from Welt Hunger Hilfe (WHH), a hydroponics system was set up at her home.
Hydroponics is the latest in the line of advanced farming techniques.
It involves growing plants, vegetables, and fruits in water that is mixed with solutions containing all the nutrients required for the development of a plant in the absence of soil or sunlight.
The system goes for up to USD900 consists of a small greenhouse where water flows in a maze of pipes decked with plants.
“Water is a challenge in Gweru and worse in Ascot. We go for a long while without water and before I got this system, I had no garden to talk about. This system is good in the sense that it saves water by 90% so it’s not as strenuous as using running water, which was our need before, to farm,” Saidi said.
In hydroponic farming, water is conserved because it is reused multiple times. Hydroponically grown plants also require no pesticides because there are no soil-borne diseases.
Saidi also says she is more empowered as she provides her family with fresh vegetables and also sells some to her immediate community for USD1 per bundle.
Ruth Rugeje is another beneficiary who says setting up the system would be the only challenge for passionate locals who may fail to afford it but testified that it is helpful.
“The only challenge I may see arising to many who may benefit from this is the cost of setting up this system. I am however in love with it because it saves water, the vegetables are clean and safe from pests. I hope to save money bit by bit so that I increase production as I am now more self-sustained than ever,” she said.
Hydroponics farming comes in a variety of formats but all boast benefits such as an ability to pivot quickly, a cleaner crop, a hyperlocal supply chain, and a more sustainable operation than traditional farming.