In a backyard in Zimbabwe’s capital, a 50-year-old mother of two is using hydroponics to grow vegetables for some of Harare’s top restaurants, defying drought and an economic crisis that have left millions needing food aid.
Venensia Mukarati, whose day job is an accountant, always had a passion for farming, but no land on which to plant.
Just over two years ago she did a web search on how to grow vegetables on the deck of her Harare house, importing a small hydroponics system from Cape Town for US$900 that enables plants to draw soluble nutrients from water.
“The good thing about hydroponics is that it saves water by 90 percent,” Mukarati said in a 46 square-meter greenhouse where water flowed in a maze of pipes decked with plants.
“I buy water because I don’t have a borehole so I cannot do conventional farming,” she told Reuters.
Her immediate desire was for fresh vegetables for the family as the country’s economic fortunes deteriorated and grocery store prices spiraled. But she quickly realized her pastime could be a profitable venture. It now makes US$1,100 a month – in a country where some government workers get just US$76.