UN brings Growboxx to Colombia

Groasis from Brabant is starting a pilot project in Colombia with the support of the World Food Program of the United Nations. Here the Growboxx will be applied. With this waterproof bucket a grower can plant trees and vegetables cheaply in dry, eroded soil.

Groasis belongs to the first batch of startups that is supported by the Innovation Accelerator program of the World Food Program. The UN aims to eliminate hunger in the world by 2030. In this framework, an Innovator Accelerator Bootcamp is held every few months. Groasis participated in this competition for new ideas in the spring, says Celine van Haaften. "We won with our water-saving technology and we are now allowed to make that known. To show the value of this technology, next month we will start a pilot project in Colombia."

'Intelligent' bucket
The 'Growboxx plant cocoon', developed and registered by Groasis, will be used in the project. It concerns an 'intelligent' bucket with which a tree can be planted with very little water consumption. Because of this idea, one year ago the company from Steenbergen was declared one of the three National Icons of 2016. According to Van Haaften, the Growboxx is a godsend for fruit growers in areas that suffer from drought, heat and erosion. "It is customary to use drip irrigation for planting trees and vegetables. But that takes a lot of water and money. By using the Growboxx, up to 90 percent less water is used, while more than 90 percent of the plants survive."

For the Growboxx a single volume of 60 liters of water is required. "That's sufficient for the entire life span," says Van Haaften. "After placing the bucket, the sparse rainwater is collected in the cover. In fact the tree gets too much water to die and too little to survive. So the roots have to search hard for water in the ground. The roots grow up to three meters deep within one year. Drip irrigation just causes the roots to become lazy."

A tree seedling grows into a fully-fledged tree in about five years. Thanks to a recent innovation, in the beginning it is possible to grow vegetables in the cover of the Growboxx. With the yield of the vegetables, the purchase costs are already recovered. Another advantage is, according to Van Haaften, that the Growboxx is biodegradable. "The container is made of paper pulp. It does not require any attention from the farmer once the tree is fully grown."

Groasis has already gained a lot of experience with water-saving technology, says Van Haaften. "Founder Pieter Hoff started fourteen years ago and nowadays the technology is applied in over forty countries. The recognition by the UN is a nice new addition. When the project in Colombia goes well, we will look for more projects together. Consider, for example, the use of the Growboxx in refugee camps, where people sometimes have to stay for twenty or even more years. This way they can grow their own fruit and vegetables."

Source: H2O

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