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 took the technology forward in 1983 and by 1997 NASA got involved and supported Stoners work on aeroponics and introduced it 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®) 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 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 deliver 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 development 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 in 16 countries [1].  In 2019, the United Nations (UN) reported that a total of 821 million people was suffering from chronic starvation as a result of conflict and climate change [2]. 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.

 

As a result of war, communities can be heavily displaced, have intermittent access to water, electricity and food. In addition to the human casualties of killed or injured, the reality of war is that more long term health issues can also occur because of both exploded and unexploded ordnance leaking into the soil that would then be used for the growing of crops.

 

The logic of developing the Nano Farm® was to simply offer communities in conflict zones a response to critical hunger, that provided safe food, grown in a resilient and sustainable way that did not have to rely on growing in contaminated soil. 

 

[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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