Alexander K Bushell, Managing Director of Boundless Horizons, based at Kent Science Park, has just returned from Eldoret, Kenya – where he has successfully deployed the company’s Solar Grow 1 (SG1) system.
SG1 is both an innovative mobile germination and seedling plant factory as well as a ‘hub’ of useful services to the local agricultural community. SG1 could revolutionise food production due to the speed at which it produces seedlings, the quantity and diversity of what it can produce and the qualitative improvements it can make to farming practices.
The trip was commissioned by Emerge Poverty Free – a charity dedicated to trying to ensure that nobody is forced to live their life in poverty. The purpose of setting SG1 up in Eldoret was to help local farmers become economically self-sufficient; firstly allowing them to feed their community and eventually helping them to produce enough diversification of crops that they can sell to other villages as well.
Mr Bushell spoke about the success of the trip, and his experiences in Kenya:
“It was incredibly humbling to see the level of poverty that the people of Eldoret are facing, which is why the work that Emerge Poverty Free is doing is so important. It was such a different environment out there – every day I was hiking through smallholder farms just to get to the compound. I don’t think people can grasp the level of poverty that these people are facing unless you’ve seen it with your own eyes.
“I spent the first few days out there getting set up and training the locals on how to use the system. One of the benefits of SG1 is that it as soon as it is onsite it begins analysing the soil and the local water options; we also completed over 25 seed trials in just 2 weeks supplemented by 4 full days of horticultural training to over 100 farmers.
“I was amazed at the buzz that followed us around and the number of people that turned up to see us every day. Everyone was very welcoming and so grateful that we were there. We had numerous visits from national newspapers and magazines who wanted to make everyone aware of the work we are doing.”
A key benefit of the SG1 unit is that it is able to constantly produce and rotate crops under controlled, optimal conditions. An SG1 unit can realistically grow 80,000 tomato plant seedlings in just one week. This ultra-quick germination capability of the SG1 provides the local farming communities with immediate qualitative capabilities such as the ability to quickly verify seed quality and to carry out soil analysis at affordable prices. Coupled with advisory programs, these result in better practices such as more judicious use of fertilisers.
All equipment contained in SG1 is reusable, which drastically reduces the amount of waste that is produced. SG1 also proved invaluable in providing readily accessible and affordable qualitative testing of seeds, water and soil. The availability of such services will greatly improve horticultural output over time.
Alexander has been developing and building the SG1 units at Kent Science Park. Site Director James Speck spoke about the Park’s ongoing support of Boundless Horizons:
“Here at the park we’ve tried to give Alexander the support and space for him to develop SG1 to the point when it was ready to be used in the field, so we are incredibly proud of the good work he has been undertaking in Kenya. This invention has the potential to change the world for the better, and I hope that more and more places will be able to make use of his revolutionary technology.”
The successful trip to Kenya caps an incredible 12 months for Alexander, who has won back-to-back awards at the British Invention Show for SG1. He spoke about how things have progressed for Boundless Horizons over the last year, and what his plans were for the future:
“In 2011 SG1 was named Invention of the Year at the British Invention Show, and the 2012 awards in October we won a Platinum award as Product of the Year. We already have three new projects lined up for next year, including South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. SG1 has the ability to play a really meaningful role in the raising of agricultural standards and in encouraging farmers towards greater crop diversity. Crop Diversity brings greater levels of bio security and introduces much-needed variety and higher nutrition to the average diet.”
More details on SG1 can be found by visiting www.boundlesshorizons.co.uk.