Are vertical gardens the future of farming in Africa?

“Land capital is so high, and yet what farmers can plant on the ground is so little”. Farmers may yet find a solution above ground, with tower gardens. That is if cousins and proprietors of Vertical Gardens, an alternative farming solutions company have any say in the matter.

Fred Muithiga and Fred Kimani came together in 2012 after they perceived a gap in the market for farmers who could not afford vast tracts of land, the duo put in $120 of starting capital and soon the business grew. However, the pandemic turned out to be a blessing in disguise as more customers from urban areas began to trickle in. according to Fred Muthaiga “Fast forward to 2020, when Corona happened. We saw an influx of people grow their own food “

Huge barriers face anyone looking to go down the vertical farming here are quite a few barriers such as huge initial investment, unreliable frequent power cuts, and let’s not talk about the enormous cost of setting up an alternative power source system.

African governments have made a push for hydroponics among other next-generation methods of farming to attracts its youth population to provide labor for its agricultural market. According to a 2021 report by the International Labour Organization, the continent’s labor force has increased markedly in size during the same period, from 302.1 million in 2000 to 489.7 million in 2019 and is projected to reach 518 million by 2021, and governments are bent on making agriculture sexy again.

In Uganda for example, the Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute in Kabanyolo now hosts demonstrations of agricultural technologies including hydroponics, that the youth and farmers can learn from. 

Back in Tanzania, hydroponics has seen some more progress in comparison to East- African counterparts. 47-year-old Mwamy Mlangwa has launched a hydroponics farm under her company Mwamy Green Veggies the first of its kind in the East African nation. Mwamy started the business 4 years, acquiring the technology in Israel, and is now selling vegetables to hotels, supermarkets, and even international airlines. Whether this will be the case for other East African countries remains to be seen.

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