Designing an affordable hydroponic system for farmers in Rural Botswana.
By Hadijah Nantambi.S
High cattle death due to sparse parched grass affects livelihood of people in Rakops, a village in Central District of Botswana. Desperate farmers then pay high prices for the scarce fodder during the dry season.
A team of individuals in the International Development Design Summit from Uganda, Botswana, Nambia, Tanzania and Brazil, brainstormed different solutions for the above problem. The team worked on problem framing and identifying design requirements to come up with developing an affordable hydroponic system for farmers to grow their own fodder. We used lablab and maize seed during the experimental testing. Although we were coming from different backgrounds, knowledge contribution from different team members was well embraced.
Seeds were weighed and soaked in water for 12 hours in a bucket. All the water was drained the next morning, seeds were scattered on a clean aluminium tray previously designed by the team. It was covered with a moist cloth and then allowed to Incubate for 48 hours. The seeds were sprinkled with water twice a day to ensure a good relative humidity for sprouting. The trays placed on a slope, were perforated on the lower side of the slope to allow drainage. To minimize water wastage in the desert, all the drained water was collected and recycled. Animal manure (chicken drooping and elephant dung) was applied on the fourth day after germination to boost seedling growth. The manure was collected from farmers in D’kar.
On week two of the summit, our team traveled to the Rakops villages, to engage with community members and agricultural officers. The feedback on both the prototype and service that can be extended in the village was used to refine the prototype before the final showcase. At the end of the summit, many of my team members reported that they felt empowered to continue applying the design process to solve everyday problems in their countries.
For details on the hydroponic fodder system design and results from the seven other projects and businesses launched at the International Development Design Summit Botswana, please see our Final Report.