Hydroponics farming boosts production at low cost: experts

KUWAIT: Hydroponics farming in Kuwait is a vital alternative for traditional methods with various benefits. — KUNA

KUWAIT: Hydroponics farming in Kuwait is a vital alternative for traditional methods with various benefits including an increase in production at lower cost, according to agricultural engineering specialists.

This method, which is not soil based, is one of the best methods used to boost production in such harsh weather conditions in the country, Director General of the Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAAFR) Faisal Al-Hasawi said yesterday.  Kuwait was the first Gulf country to use this method in 1955, running an experimental agricultural unit of 500 square meters, followed by four others of 2000 square meters in 1962, he said.

With encouraging results, Kuwait established the first hydroponic unit in the Middle East in 1976, stretching over 20,000 square meters to produce different kinds of vegetables and flowers, said Hasawi.

However, this method did not spread among farmers who committed to their traditional ways, as water resources were available at that time and soil-related infections were not common then as they are now, he also added.  In 2003, Kuwait grew lettuce using this non-soil based method in a land of five donum (5,000 square meters) in Al-Wafra and Al-Abdali, while it increased to 50 donum in 2013-2014, the official said.

Hasawi noted that Kuwait worked on developing the use of this technology in a project executed in cooperation with the Gulf countries and Yemen, and funded by the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Since 2008 until this year, 26 farms have adopted this technology in Kuwait, he added.
Meanwhile, PAAAFR’s engineer Ghanem Al-Sanad said that hydroponic farming depends on growing plants in different nutrients-rich solutions and mediums.  As farming became more difficult due to pollution in the meantime, people tend to grow plants at the rooftop of their homes, using hydroponic technologies, he added. In the meantime, head of the research department at the authority Mohammad Jamal said that non-soil agriculture offers larger farming space, faster production by 400 percent and preserves water consumption by about 90 percent. He added that the downside to this method is the high establishment cost and the need for constant observation. – KUNA

This article was published on 31/01/2017