Bulembu Hydroponics Project
Located in the Highveld of Northwest Swaziland, Bulembu was established in the late 1930’s as a mining town which grew to a thriving community of over 10,000 people. In 2001 the mining company close down and soon this town was abandoned with a community with no income. In 2006, a team of entrepreneurs and social developers with a vision to restore Bulembu to a self-sustaining community set up the Bulembu project. This vision for sustainability includes fostering the development of a new generation of emerging leaders through orphan care, education, health services and commerce.
Haygrove South Africa was asked to assist with setting up a poly-tunnel with irrigation system in Bulembu. The project was funded by Eureka Rotary and Overseas Resource Link. Haygrove set up a Solo Poly-tunnel system with a drip irrigation, as the team from Bulembu is interested in growing tomatoes. Haygrove assisted the team with the technical aspects of setting up the irrigation and the poly-tunnel and played a major advisory role in the set-up of the project.
Sifiso, a senior boy attending the high school have been involved with the schools smaller hydroponics system and since mid-January, he has been doing flow tests and setting up the irrigation computer on this larger system that will soon be planted with tomato seedlings.
Five hundred and eighty plastic bags will be planted with tomato seedlings. When fully grown, more than one hundred plants should be producing approximately six tons of tomatoes per year. Each growing bag contains shredded bark, an inert material, since hydroponics provides all the necessary nutrients through the irrigation. Each bag has its own irrigation dripper, with a flow rate of about one and a half liters per hour. Leakage out the bag is normal, with some overflow necessary for a complete nutrient delivery on each of the four watering cycles per day.
Nutrients for growing tomatoes are added to the two 2500 liter water tanks. A control unit has been programmed to send the fertilized water four times a day through the pump and into the irrigation system that feeds each tomato plant individually.
Haygrove South Africa is extremely excited about this project and encourage young Sifiso in enquiring knowledge through putting things into practise. We hope to see him any many others from the community grow up to become the future pioneers of agriculture through hydroponic farming. For more information about Bulembu you can visit their website: http://www.bulembu.org/
Haygrove South Africa offers a complete package to corporate companies interested in investing in social enterprise development or community development projects as well as charity organisations that is looking to contribute to poverty alleviation and food security in poorer communities. Haygrove south Africa offers the technical skills and agricultural knowledge to implement these projects and ensure the successful management of these projects through mentoring and advisory roles.