The AGM Mobile Elementary School India pilot will help to develop the technical means of the Base of the Pyramid (BoP) segment urban food production, to examine the functionality and cost-effectiveness, and to organize the training of the local community as end users. Study hypothesis: ”Closed circuit”- how to solve problems of food production in the megacity slum schools. Under the steeply accelerating population growth we constantly face more challenges also in the field of food production. We are designing a hydroponic system integrated with the school environment to promote sustainable food production. Hydroponic farming is a water-based, soil-free technology that enables efficient growing of food crops without a strain imposed to the soil and space restrictions present in conventional farming. Our project will promote simple but still seldom used technology on a grassroots and common-day level. Soil erosion, lack of green biomass and lack of adequate space are crucial problems in densely populated areas with hazy building plan, and we aim to tackle these problems directly head-on. The local community and school students will be encouraged to take part in the crop production to introduce and familiarize the residents with the technology and its opportunities. Understanding and recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of the local environment and culture is crucially essential for this project to succeed, and therefore we have a multicultural team with a varied background to ensure this. The hydroponic system will be designed and implemented by an undergraduate environmental engineering student Ilmari Kalaoja TAMK Tampere University of Applied Sciences, as his final thesis project. Co-operation with the pilot school architects and other professionals is pivotal in the seamless integration of the system to the school infrastructure as an organic and essential part of the school environment. Because of the flexible placement of the hydroponic system it can be located on rooftops, walls and ground level stacked in multiple layers for practicality, but also for aesthetic and creative reasons to enliven the urban environment. The system will apply the latest information and technological knowledge to ensure efficient food production. Research will be done on most suitable local food crops and the water for the system will be acquired with sustainability on mind. Recycled and locally produced materials are used in the system to the greatest possible extent. The preliminary background planning of the pilot is done during the end of 2013 and the initial field research and testing on location is conducted already in January 2014. The school itself should be ready by the beginning of summer of 2014 and once found to be successful, the idea is planned to be duplicated in a great variety of other locations in India and beyond.
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