In Lima, Peru, WFP is using low tech hydroponics to provide important access to nutritious foods and support local businesswomen.
Hydroponics is a soilless cultivation technique that enables plant growth in areas that are non-fertile, arid or urban with limited space. It saves resources and is cost efficient (90% less water, ¼ of space required compared to traditional agriculture). In the slums of Lima, Peru, WFP is equipping vulnerable urban communities with the knowledge, expertise and instructions on how to construct tools to grow hydroponic, nutritious food – and establish the base for additional income activities.
The pilot currently operates across three districts and provides more than 200 vulnerable women with opportunities to grow their own food in the desert-slums. Having identified the optimum teaching and cultivation techniques, WFP is now establishing a structure for scale-up and identifying sales and distribution channels. One key aspect of the project is the focus on creating business opportunities, specifically for vulnerable women who have started creating and running their own communal orchards. The project aims to:
- Teach and promote the growing of vegetables using hydroponics technology;
- Diversify the consumption of vegetables in the diet of the supported families;
- Enable families in food insecure areas to improve their nutrition intake;
- Educate and support women in vulnerable communities start their own business opportunity;
- and establish a train-the-trainer module and supporting tools such as a smartphone app.
During pilot implementation, several training were carried out; firstly teaching participants hydroponic vegetable cultivation techniques and secondly, tackling key topics such as pest control and crop diversification. To ensure the sustainability of the project, a selection of people from local organisations were trained as ‘hydroponic coaches’, ensuring the sharing of tools and knowledge beyond the initial pilot location.
To further expand the project, a basic smart phone application is under development to support coaches provide step-by-step tutorials and facilitate an online exchange of ideas, advice and trading opportunities.