The demand for healthy, clean and tasty vegetables continues to grow worldwide, including in Afric & South Africa where we see fast food chains & large retailers approach hydropoic farmers directly to grow for their stores or establishments. In line with the strong ‘local for local’ trend, new and advanced methods are helping to ensure that vegetables can be produced locally in an efficient and sustainable way.
Hydroponics is one example of an innovative production method. According to Peter Sonneveld, who has been a market specialist for hydroponics at Rijk Zwaan since May 2018, this method is gaining in popularity all over the world, especially for leafy crops. “We are seeing Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) and Deep Water Culture (DWC) being used in many different greenhouse setups, from low-tech to high-tech. High-tech greenhouses are extensively automated and are mainly found in Northwestern Europe, Eastern Europe, Russia and North America. Hydroponics is an extremely food-safe production method entailing the maximum reuse of water and fertilisers and the use of no – or the bare minimum of – chemicals. It’s extremely sustainable,” he says.