An Iraqi family’s sustainable farm
Hydroponic agriculture, an innovative solution amid a water crisis
June 18, 2023
Ammar's story begins in the Iraqi capital where he was born and raised. As a young boy, his curiosity was ignited by two seemingly unrelated events: witnessing the age-old traditions of farming around him and an encounter with technology imported from a far-off land. His father's trip to Japan in the 80s brought back a bunch of intriguing gadgets, which, to young Ammar, were fascinating tokens of innovation and progress. These early inspirations ignited a flame in Ammar, fusing together his love for agriculture and technology, and setting him on a path to become an entrepreneur with an extraordinary vision.
Today, Ammar is at the heart of an ambitious venture — a smart farm that seeks to tackle one of the biggest challenges that his home city of Baghdad faces: Water scarcity. His project utilizes hydroponic technology, a system that enables plant growth in a water-based nutrient-rich solution, eliminating the need for soil and significantly reducing water usage.
This was a concept he was not born with, but a vision carefully crafted and developed over time. After building an initial small-scale prototype, Ammar turned to UNDP for expert guidance. Receiving technical support from the Environment program of UNDP Iraq, Ammar then took his ambitions overseas to Jordan, where he further expanded his knowledge and skillset through dedicated coursework.
Upon his return to Baghdad, armed with newfound expertise and a reinforced vision, Ammar invested his personal savings into his new venture - "Al-Hayane Farm". This isn't just any farm, but a sustainable and innovative hub of agricultural technology. Along with hydroponics, "Al-Hayane Farm" incorporates aquaponics — a system integrating fish farming with hydroponics, where the waste produced by the aquaculture provides nutrients for the plants.
Yet, his innovation did not stop there. Understanding the pressing need to conserve energy, Ammar incorporated passive cooling through evaporation into the farm design — a technology that harnesses the natural process of water evaporation to cool the surrounding air, thus saving around 85% of energy consumption.
Spread over 1400 square meters and powered by 80% solar energy, "Al-Hayane Farm" is a testament to sustainable agriculture. Each year, the farm could produce over 120 tons of fruits and vegetables including strawberries, lettuce, and onion. It could also significantly reduce environmental impact by cutting plastic usage by 60%, water usage by 75%, and CO2 emissions by 30 tons per year.
The financial prospects of this venture are equally promising. According to Ammar, a similar project could see a 65% return on investment in the first year and potentially provide around 20 permanent jobs and 80 temporary ones. It could also ensure a substantial income for a family of six.
However, for Ammar, his venture goes beyond monetary gain. His ultimate goal is to demonstrate the feasibility and profitability of sustainable agriculture to his family, neighbors, and the larger community. He believes that despite the challenges Baghdad faces, its residents can create and enjoy the benefits of sustainable and profitable businesses. His family, his first supporters, work alongside him on the farm every day, embodying the very proof of the potential success of his ambitious vision.
Ammar's journey is an inspiring blend of ambition, innovation, and resilience. His story symbolizes a new era of green revolution for Baghdad and perhaps even for the rest of Iraq. Through his vision, Ammar demonstrates that with the right blend of traditional wisdom, innovative technology, and a determination to overcome challenges, one can create a future that is not only sustainable but also economically thriving.
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