By Mary Hearty

In an effort to build resilience for sustainable food security and nutrition across Africa during COVID-19 crisis, African Association for Vertical Farmers (AAVF) are sensitizing the technique to farmers.

 AAVF targets youth and women in this vertical farming technology to reach communities amid this tough time. The organization says it is time Africa adopt new modern farming techniques like vertical farming.

The aim of this is to ensure that Africans are not only food secure but also eat healthy and nutritious meals.

These remarks were made by Peter Nyateng’, the AAVF coordinator, Kenya, during a virtual meeting held by AAVF on resilience food systems during and post COVID-19 in Africa.

Peter Nyateng’, the AAVF coordinator, Kenya,

“Over the years, majority of Africans have been using convectional farming technique, which is seasonal to produce food for themselves even though hunger is not seasonal,” Nyateng’, said.

“Therefore, introducing vertical farming as an alternative method to produce food would greatly contribute towards sustainable food security and healthy living. During such crisis it’s important to practice this technology throughout the year,” Nyateng’, emphasized.

According to AAVF, vertical farming is the production of food in vertical stacks using soil or hydroponics to deliver water and nutrients to the plants. Food produced through this method of farming matures within a short period of time.

Yields are also higher because crops are grown locally with very minimal environmental disturbances such as locusts, floods among others hence good produce.

For instance, Peter explained: “Instead of harvesting tomatoes after 3 months using convectional farming, vertical farming enables farmers to produce the same tomatoes within 6 weeks and higher quality.”

Nyateng’ is encouraging the youth to go the innovative way in agriculture in order to promote food security in Africa.

Youth admiring the farming technique

The AAVF which is non-profit organization has been engaging and training women and youth through their website about kitchen gardening across Africa during this pandemic.

“We have been sensitizing up to 5000 women and youth on a daily basis across Africa about vertical farming. Approximately 92 percent have successfully embraced this modern vertical farming in their residential to provide for families during COVID-19 pandemic,” Mashel Nyagilo, Agromonist AAVF, said.

Youth are known for lavish life and as a result, majority often have negative attitude towards agriculture as a dirty job meant for retirees. Sadly, this is owing to inadequate information on agriculture.

“Many youth lack information about this cool modern farming technique called vertical farming. So we are creating awareness on various online platforms about this great opportunity on food security across Africa to boost economy especially during this pandemic period,” Elizabeth Okullow, Founder of Lefamia Greens, explained.

Moreover, agricultural value chain is wide, covering various activities that add value to agricultural produce. They include logistics, marketing, finance and tech-savvy, among others.

As the saying goes, ‘the youth are the greatest assets for the future’ since they are more energetic and are many in numbers in Africa and globally. For that reason, Africa needs to target youth the most.

Through this awareness initiative AAVF has reached about 30 countries including Kenya, Tanzania, Algeria, Nigeria, Gambia, South Africa, among others.