HESE Affordable Greenhouses have been implemented in several countries across the African continent. The context specific design of these greenhouses allows for success from Sierra Leone to Zambia.
Agro-Entrepreneurs in Nairobi, Kenya
Agro-entrepreneurs in Nairobi utilize HESE Affordable Greenhouses to expand their business activities. Usually forced to headquarter their enterprises on the outskirts of the city in order to farm the open-land, our greenhouses’ compact design has allowed for these farmers to cultivate their crops within the urban center of Nairobi itself, dramatically reducing their transportation costs and waste due to spoilage.While using less space than a traditional open-air farm, a single greenhouse can house over 100 plants, significantly increasing crop yields. In addition to these increased yields, the year round growth provided by our greenhouses has allowed these market savvy farmers to strategically sell certain produce when it is normally out of season. Taking advantage of year round growth has allowed these entrepreneurs additional outlets for income. Instead of selling their produce exclusively in traditional open-air markets, these farmers have developed partnerships with local supermarkets in need of a steady supply of produce year-round.
Mother Support Groups in Makeni, Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone has one of the highest rates of both infant and maternal mortality rates in the entire world. Malnutrition and food insecurity are largely responsible for these high rates. Mother Support Groups (MSGs) provide instruction, counseling, information and support in maternal and infant nutrition through frequent group meetings. (1) In Makeni, the fastest growing urban center in Sierra Leone, HESE Affordable Greenhouses has partnered with World Hope International to improve infant and maternal nutrition through the introduction of greenhouses to MSGs. Normally, the nutrition of these marginalized groups suffer greatly due to seasonal unavailability of affordable produce. With our greenhouses, MSGs grow healthy produce all year long, keeping a percentage for the mothers and children and selling the rest at market for a profit shared across the group.
Exotics Farmers in Nairobi, Kenya
Those who farm in the open-air are limited to cultivating native crops that can grow according to the climate of the region. Greenhouse farmers have several additional options when selecting crops to grow due to the customizable micro-climate that is controlled by adjusting the roll-up bars. At Mavunno Greenhouses in Kenya, our farmers are growing exotic plants such as blueberries, strawberries and basil. Since theses crops are not native to the area, there are huge profits to made. The income generated by growing exotic plants such as strawberries can result in a return on investment in just one crop cycle.
The Star School in Kigali, Rwanda
In 2012, two greenhouses were built at the Star School in Kigali, Rwanda. At the Star School, sponsored students come from at-risk backgrounds. These are orphans, former street youth, children of prostitutes and street beggars, missing parents, or jobless parents with an inability to pay school fees. Students live in Star School’s on-campus dormitories and receive meals, clothes, medical care, and education. One of the greatest costs for the school are the food expenses. Because of the hilly terrain that is common in that region, the school was unable to farm large areas of land. The modular design of our greenhouses allowed us to build two greenhouses with 6×6 meter dimensions rather than the (then) standard 8×15 meters to fit the context we were working in. The teachers and older students at the school were taught how to utilize the greenhouses and planted tomatoes in both as their first crop. After just 2 months, the tomatoes were harvested and were sold for a whopping $530 USD, earning the school an immediate return on their investment. The greenhouses are maintained by a school gardener and provide the 500+ students with fresh and healthy produce all year-round.
Women’s Cooperatives in the Xai-Xai District, Mozambique
In Africa, women are known to produce up to 80% of the food. Yet, when it comes to agricultural inputs and services, the share going to women is meagre: they receive only 7% of agricultural extension services, less than 10% of the credit offered to small-scale farmers, and own only 1% of the land. (2) Women join forces to form agricultural cooperatives in order to reach economies of scale while growing cash crops rather than being limited to subsistence agriculture. In Mozambique’s Xai Xai district, much of the region has sandy soil and areas of arid to semi-arid climates- both factors require intense irrigation to engage in productive agriculture. However, fresh water is difficult to obtain and flood irrigation is a wasteful if not impossible. HESE’s Affordable Greenhouses utilize drip irrigation to water crops. (Drip irrigation uses gravity to control the amount of water deposited directly at the root of crops, dramatically reducing water waste.) Our partners, World Hope International have built wells all over the region to increase the amount of water available. The combination of the availability of well-water and the drip irrigation systems utilized by our greenhouses has resulted in women’s cooperatives success in growing crops such as lettuce in the sandy soil once thought to be useless and unproductive.
The CYEC in Nyeri, Kenya
The Children and Youth Empowerment Centre (CYEC) is a residential and educational program for former street-dwelling youth located in Nyeri, Kenya. It is here that HESE Affordable Greenhouses built its very first greenhouse in 2010. Over five years and fifteen successful crop cycles later, the greenhouse remains functional and has been a sustainable addition to the centre’s system. Rotating their crops to include lucrative sellers such as tomatoes, bell peppers, kale and spinach, half of each crop cycle is sold at market and pays for the salaries of the staff at the centre. The other half of each cycle’s produce is kept by the centre and provides year-long food security through nutrition for its residents.