Food Security Innovation

The Nano Farm Project is a food security focused innovation developed by Arma Group to attempt to interrupt critical hunger for people that find themselves caught up in either conflict zones or areas where a natural disaster has occurred. It is a project that supports the work of nanofarms.org, a non-profit organization that is currently undergoing charitable registration through the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland.

What is a Nano Farm?

A nano farm® is a small, mobile, self-sufficient aeroponic growing system for vegetables. Using aeroponic technology that was developed initially by Fritz Warmolt Went in 1957, Richard Stoner in 1983 took the technology forward and by 1997, NASA got involved and supported Stoners work on aeroponics on-board the space shuttle endeavour.

Arma group has adapted this aeroponic technology for use in areas where people go hungry because of conflict or natural disasters. A nano farm® can provide a growing space for up to 20 plants and is designed for individual family use. The main benefits are:

 

  • The nanofarm®) that does not require soil

  • It uses 98% less water than regular farming 

  • There are no pesticides used

  • Increases crop yields by between 45 and 75% 

  • Not dependent on seasonality.

 

To help visualise what the nanofarm® is, it is roughly the size of a large plastic toolbox on wheels that has a plant growing platform that can be structured in a variety of ways to grow food dependent on the targetted community needs. All types of plants can be grown in the nanofarm® (root vegetables, tubers, rhizomes, bulbs, herbs etc.). Underneath the growing platform is the aeroponic high pressure components that delivers a nutrient spray (50 microns) to the roots of the plant on a timed schedule. 

Why Did We Develop the Nano Farm?

Arma Group wanted to respond in a real way to the develop of food security measures. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) in 2018, conflict was the most common factor undermining food security[1] in 16 countries.  In 2019, the United Nations (UN)[2] reported that a total of 821 million people was suffering from chronic starvation as a result of conflict and climate change. The rationale that governed the Arma Group development of Nano Farm® , stems from the Managing Directors experiences in the post war reconstruction efforts in Bosnia and Kosovo. Considerable impact factors were recognised first-hand in the aftermath of these conflicts. These impact factors included in a physical sense, large displaced communities, intermittent access to water, electricity and food.

 

In addition to these basic human needs, the reality of war that required a heavy bombing campaign, left both exploded and unexploded ordnance leaking into the soil that would then be used for the growing of crops. This plants grown in that soil would then be consumed. In recognition of the serious illnesses that can occur from conflict, the driving rationale of Nano Farm® is the potential long term health benefits of not consuming produce grown in heavily contaminated soil. The logic was was -simply to offer communities in conflict zones a response to critical hunger, that provided safe food in a resilient and sustainable way.

 

[1]  https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/01/1001471. Accessed 10.12.19

[2] The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019.

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