The Agri-business Tunnel Farm and Training Centre
The establishment of the “Agri-business Tunnel Farm and Training Centre” on the Walshacres Farm in Stanford,was the first of the HRT “Social Enterprise” Business Centre activities to be implemented in january 2014.
The Tunnel Farm and Training Centre is a critical component of the "Social Enterprise" Business Centre and for the achievement of our Vision and Mission statements. The main goal of the Centre is to establish the first of 5 commercial Food Production Tunnel Farms and Agri-business Training Colleges in South Africa, which will provide training and skills development, jobs and business opportunities, “food security” and combat poverty, while generating profits to fund the HRT’s "social purpose" programmes in the future
The Food Production and Training Centre is being developed as a perfect, unique, innovative, replicable food production facility that will be implemented in 4 other provinces over the next 10 years. It will be managed and operated by the “Management, Administration and Services Centre as a profitable commercial business, based on a “triple bottom line” 3P’s model.
A Unique “Triple Bottom Line” project
The HRT “Social Enterprise” has been established as a triple bottom line “Service Provider Partner” for listed companies wanting to benefit from the BEE legislation and “Codes of Good Practice”. By partnering with us and funding our social purpose and environmental business activities, companies can benefit from the “Enterprise Development” and Corporate Social Responsibility requirements defined in the Codes of Good Practice.
The “Agri-business Food and Training Production Centre” provides businesses with an opportunity to participate in a unique “triple bottom line” project that focuses on “Enterprise and Supplier” development. This project enables businesses to partner with the HRT to achieve their “triple bottom line” objectives and to improve their BEE status by investing in a project that supports the BEE categories in the areas of training and skills development, CSI, Enterprise Development (ED) and Preferential Procurement.
Rural Farmer Training and Support
The Food Production and Training Centre incorporates an Agri-business Training College that together with the “Trade Centre” training facility will provide emerging rural farmers with a range of training and skills development courses to assist them to become successful tunnel farmers. The Tunnel Farm in Stanford has been developed as a commercial growing facility as well as a demo facilities for emerging rural farmers to see and observe various commercial tunnel growing facilities and options to assist them to decide on a tunnel farm configuration. The Tunnel farm also promotes the “Haygrove Sustainable Food Upliftment Programme” incorporating the concept of a “carbon neutral – farm in a tunnel”.
The Food Production and Training Centre, in conjunction with Haygrove will provide the necessary support and guidance to rural farmers to achieve the following objectives.
o By getting incremental training based on success and achievement, with dedicated farmers becoming commercial farmers or an option to become Agriculture Extension Officers.
o By feeding their families with nutritious food (food security)
o By selling their surplus production to the Business Centre for processing
The HRT’s “Agri-business Food Production Centre” project is a unique project offering people, specifically volunteers interested in agri-business, agro-processing and tunnel farming to assist rural farmers to become self-sustaining and beat the terrible effects of poverty and improve the lives of their family members.
The “Global Volunteer Network”, who have placed over 20,000 people over the last 13 years, claim that volunteering overseas on a social purpose project is very rewarding and results in an incredible sense of fulfilment, with 92% of all volunteers highlighting the opportunity to do something meaningful as a key benefit and a life changing experience.
The Food Production and Training Centre facilities
The Centre will have the following facilities.
The “Food Production and Training Centre” has been developed as a critical component of the “Business Centre” to provide the “food” requirements for both fresh produce and for further processing in the Agro-processing facility, as well as training facilities and commercial organic fertilisers and pesticides. The Centre has 10 key objectives:
1. To establish the “Food Production Tunnel Farms” as sustainable commercial production facilities to grow vegetables, micro-greens, fruit, herbs and breed fish and to generate profits to fund the HRT “social purpose” programmes
2. To utilise the “Food Production Tunnel Farm” as a demo and training facility for emerging rural farmers
3. To establish a “Rural Tunnel Farmers Network” for emerging rural farmers
4. To establish a commercial “Vermiculture Worm factory” to produce highly effective organic and liquid fertilisers that also act as natural pesticides for both internal use and retail sales
5. To establish a commercial organic, heritage, heirloom seedling nursery to supply the growing anti-GMO market
6. To establish an Agri-business Training College and tunnel training facilities for emerging Rural farmers
7. To establish a “Trade Centre” training facility for people wanting to work on farms
8. To reduce poverty by providing training and skills development and creating jobs and business opportunities
9. To reduce malnutrition and hunger by growing nutritious vegetables and herbs to ensure “food security”
10. To consolidate the various revenue streams to generate surplus revenue (profits) to fund the “social purpose” programmes
The “Food Production Tunnel Farms”
Each of the 5 “Food Production Tunnel Farms” that will be established around South Africa over the next 10 years, have been developed as commercial “growing facilities” utilising various tunnel growing systems to produce high quality organic vegetables, micro-greens, herbs, berries and fish. The fresh produce will be sold locally or utilised by the Agro-processing facility to manufacture “Functional Foods” or “Convenience Packaged Foods”.
The “Food Production Tunnel Farms” will also be utilised as a demo and training facility to promote and sell services and support to rural farmers including the various tunnel growing systems and the “Haygrove Sustainable Food Security Production Units”.
The “Agri-business Production Farm” will incorporate 5 different commercial Tunnel Systems, each with a different production system, costs and sophistication. Each Tunnel System will be managed as a commercial “for profit” system, against measurable criteria to enable the social impact, affordability, viability, sustainability and profitability to be measured, recorded and displayed as part of the promotional programme for potential rural farmers to select appropriate solutions. This information, together with daily operational activities, available and wanted products, buying and selling pricing, job and business opportunities, skills development modules and associated news and information, will be distributed on the “Agri-business Information Network” as well as via the weekly “Rural Farmers Tunnel Network” radio programme on the Whale Coast FM Community radio station.
This is a very basic “Farm in a Tunnel” that is ideal for a rural farmer that wants to grow vegetables to feed his family and sell the surplus as a source of revenue. The vegetables are grown in plastic coir bags on the ground and are watered and fertilised by hand. Bags can removed and replaced if needed. This is a “Tunnel to Table” solution that is relatively cheap to set up and to operate and provides sustainable “food security” and a revenue stream for a single family or multiple families.
This tunnel has already been installed in the “Agri-business Production Centre” in Stanford with 650 coir bags, planted with a variety of winter vegetables that will be harvested over the next few months and sold via our “ONE Food Club”. (The club will primarily sell Organic, Natural, Ethical produce)
This tunnel can be upgraded with an irrigation system at any time.
This “Farm in a Tunnel” is similar to the Basic Tunnel but has a gravity fed irrigation system from an elevated tank. The tank can be filled from any water source including a rain water collection gutter system that channels the water into an underground tank. The water is then pumped into the main tank using a small solar water pump and float switch, or manually using a bucket. The main tank then feeds a “Family Drip System” (FDS) that distributes water to each plant via micro drip lines.
This tunnel has already been installed in the “Agri-business Production Centre” in Stanford with 650 coir bags, planted with a variety of tomatoes that will be harvested over the next few months and sold via our “ONE Club”. (The club will primarily sell Organic, Natural, Ethical produce)
This tunnel can be upgraded to an automated irrigation system with ground level tanks and pumps with a controller. This will also require an upgrade to the solar system or an electricity supply.
This is very versatile tunnel increasing the revenue generating capacity by incorporating a “chicken run”, an NFT (Nutrient Film Technique) Hydroponics vegetable system, and fish tanks. The provision of water and nutrients will be from a combination of tanks with a controller to ensure optimum feeding efficiency.
This tunnel will provide “free range chicken eggs”, organic vegetables and Tilapia fish and is an ideal commercial opportunity to assist rural farmers to become self-sustainable. .
The chicken manure can be easily collected to create biogas that can be used for various purposes.
Biogas is 100% renewable non-fossil derived fuel. 100 chickens provide enough manure to make 1 cubic meter of biogas per day, which will provide 2.5 hours of lighting or cooking a day for a family.
These tunnels will initially cater for 350 chickens and 768 NTF plants and 1,000 fish.
The Aquaponics “Farm in a Tunnel” is the most advanced and complex of all of the tunnels, requiring considerable knowledge and dedication of time and effort, and a good understanding of the technology used.
An “Aquaponic” systems combines “aquaculture” (raising fish) with “hydroponics” (soil-less growing of plants) together in one integrated system. The fish waste provides an organic food source for the growing of plants, and the plants provide a natural filter to clean the water for the fish to live in. However, a third requirement is needed to convert the ammonia in the fish waste to nitrites and then nitrates to fertilise the plants. In the case of a system where the plants grow in holes in a “raft” floating on the water, this will be done through filters that contain microbes (bacteria) to do the conversion. In the case where the plants are in a “growing medium” red worms will be used to create vermi-compost that will feed the plants.
The Aquaponics ”Farm in a Tunnel” that we will be installed in the “Agri-business Production Centre” will be a “RAFT” system that is a hybrid “best of breed” taken from “Stellenbosch University” and the University of the Virgin Islands, who have been researching and developing aquaponics systems for many years.
The system will have a large fish tank capable of accommodating 5,000 Tilapia and a vegetable raft system with 2800 lettuce per month.
The “Nursery in a Tunnel” is an ideal commercial venture for rural farmers. Although the capital outlay is quite high, the revenue and profits are worthwhile, as long as a market can be secured.
The “Nursery in a Tunnel” that will be installed at the “Agri-business Production Centre” will be unique in that it will only grow organic and heritage/heirloom seedlings in competition to the increasing GMO seedlings.
The Nursery has been designed to accommodate 8 rows of seedling trays (128 plants) on 3 levels, with a maximum capacity of 79,000 seedlings. It will also accommodate about 150 hanging baskets for larger plants and herbs.
Vermiculture is the process of using worms to convert waste into extremely potent natural compost (Vermi-compost) and liquid fertilisers (Vermi-tea). The Worm Factory will be based on a commercial model using worm bins that are capable of producing 350kgs of worm castings a week once established. The farm will focus on producing organic Vermi-compost packaged in 20 DM and 40DM bags and Vermi-tea (concentrated organic liquid fertiliser) in 1 and 2 litre bottles. The compost and tea will be used in our growing facilities as well as for sale to Nurseries, Garden Shops and Farmers.
A “logistics” Distribution Point” will be established at the “Tunnel Farm” in Stanford. This will include a small logistics office, the Supply Chain Management System application, ablutions, a "cold room" and warehouse facility where the farm produce will pass through to the various destinations, controlled by the Supply Chain Management System
The Agri-business Training College will be established in Stanford during 2017 as an Agri-business Tunnel farming, training college, primarily for emerging farmers in the Overstrand region. The College will be established as a commercial Training College.
There is a desperate need for a “tradesman” training facility in the Overberg. This “Trade Centre” Training facility will focus on Agri-type trades primarily for emerging rural farmers, and will include irrigation / plumbing, mechanical machinery, welding, electrical, construction and carpentry. It will be established in the same premises as the Agri-business Training College in Stanford.
The "Social Enterprise" Entrepreneurial Centre will also be established as part of the Agri-business Training College to develop entrepreneurs interseted in establishing businesses in the Agri-business and Agro-processing sectors.