Unique Simplified Hydroponic For

 Swaziland Poor Subsistence Farmers

Project Summary

Swaziland is in a vicious circle of problems that need to be broken. According to the National Agricultural Marketing Board (NAMBoard), up to 80% of fresh products consumed in Swaziland each year are imported from South Africa. About 60% of the people still depend on subsistence farming. According to World Health Organization, 69% of the population lives below the poverty line while 48% live on less than a dollar a day.


HIV and AIDS prevalence is the highest in the world, leading to nearly half the population being under the age of 18. Recurrent droughts, loss of soil fertility and traditional agricultural methods, have contributed to severe food shortages as a result 40% of the country’s population rely on food aids. On top of that the unemployment rate is 40%.

Simplified hydroponics system can be considered an effective alternative for integration into food security development programs for low-resource populations living under poverty conditions. However in most cases these methods can be very expensive for poor Swazi Farmers.

Can the current hydroponic method be adapted for use by poor subsistence farmers in Swaziland to increase food production thus reducing high levels of shortage of food?

We developed a Unique Simplified Hydroponics Method (USHM), to grow vegetables using local waste organic matter as growing medium and used waste cartons as garden containers. We then dissolved nutrients in chicken manure, into the water used for watering. Our aim was to produce large quantity of crops in a relative small area, without harming the environment with chemicals such as fertilizers; while using what others call waste in our crop production.

Then we grew baby marrows and lettuce to test which method has a better yield given the same area of land. For each method we conducted the following measurement; growth rate; time taken to harvest; economic impact given the same climate condition , time and resources and environmental impacts.


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Independent Variables: The Method Used in Growing the Vegetables 

Control Group – Subsistence Farming Methods (SFM)

Experimental Group – Unique Simplified Hydroponic Method (USHM)

Dependent Variables:

  • Crop population per unit area of land
  • Growth rate
  • Harvesting Period
  • Input cost compared to output value of crops
  • Amount of waste re-used or recycled or resources reduced
  • Method which may result in soil erosioWe had several control variables in place to make sure the experiment is fair.

We planted baby marrows and lettuce using both USHM and SFM controlling area of land. We observed and measured the results of the experiment. And we found out that our USHM Increase;

  • Population by 152% per unit area of land
  • Yield produced by 38% per unit area of land
  • Average growth rate by 350%
  • Output value by 43%
  • While reducing time taken to harvest by 35%

We also noticed that our USHM has a more positive environmental impact as it eliminate soil tilling which cause soil erosion, while practising the three R’s i.e. recycling and reusing waste, while reducing resources as inputs like land.