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Hydroponics improves lives of refugees

Refugees living in the Algerian Sahara are using a hydroponics system to feed their animals.

The Sahrawi refugees are harnessing the technique, which works without the need for fertile soil, to grow barley fodder in seven days – from seed to harvest. It is a transformation from the poor diet the goats had, which previously resulted in poor quality meat and milk.

“With this method, plants do not need soil. They get the nutrients they need from special solutions, and develop up to twice as fast as in traditional farming. In hydroponic units — which can be fuelled by solar energy — light, temperature and water supply can be more precisely controlled and monitored than when plants are grown in soil. Crops are also pesticide-free,” a World Food Programme (WFP) blog explains.

With support from WFP Innovation, hi-tech solar powered hydroponics container were taken into the camps. And local farmers have been learning how to use the system to make it a sustainable platform for the refugees living there. In the first trial there was an increase in the milk production of the goats that took part in the first trial by 250%.

The units have supported around 500 people so far and the WFP is now looking at other areas and countries that might benefit from the technology.

Listen to Nina Schroeder explain more about the method in this WFP Innovation video.

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