Agriculture in Aruba is limited due to factors like high water and energy prices, limited land an extreme temperatures caused by climate change. These factors make it difficult to produce on medium or great scale, in an innovative and sustainable way. During the pandemic, there were concerns about the availability of fruits and vegetables since Aruba depends greatly on imported food. Additionally the increased shipping costs had a negative impact on the price of the imported food products.
In the past 4 years however, there has been an increase in interest for agriculture using Hydroponics, which is a very modern system to grow food and guarantees successful crops.
This seems like a possible solution to the challenges mentioned above, and this modern and innovative system has intrigued the younger generation.
In 2016, the Santa Rosa together with the TNO, conducted a study on the variety of crops including local crops that have been successfully harvested in Aruba like beans, cucumbers and okra’s. The study concluded that hydroponics offers the possibility for diversification on the variety of crops. Another factor that limits small entrepreneurs from starting their modern agriculture project is the high cost of the start-up equipment and fertilizers required for the production. These factors make it unattractive and does not help to stimulate more people to invest in these systems. A hydroponic system can be built with materials purchased locally and is pretty easy to install.
As the authority of the Primary Sector in Aruba, Santa Rosa recognizes the importance of Hydroponics and the opportunities that this offers to the agriculture sector. In connection with this system, a research was done on the system being used in Surinam. Santa Rosa approached Hydroponics Technologies Suriname, who developed a medium size, more simplified and compact system where a cooperative handles the sales. This cooperative model offers a variety of workshops to those interested and provide support when needed, product availability and is responsible the promotion and sales, which generates income to make the cooperative self-sustainable.
Clients or artisan producers have expressed their need for knowledge on how to produce in a hydroponic system but wanted a small scale system to start with. In the past, the company Hydroponic Technologies Surinam approached the Department of Agriculture, Livestock and Fishery with an offer to start a project in Aruba together with the DLVV to create awareness, educate and present the possibilities of producing fresh produce locally while contributing to the local economy with their micro business. Unfortunately the pandemic caused this project to come to a halt.
The management of the Department of Agriculture, Livestock and Fishery, better known as Santa Rosa, is extremely happy for the support and cooperation received from Minister Arends who immediately after receiving the presentation from the Director of Urban Hydro Tech Surinam, Mr. Delano Pontit, announced the green light to continue with this project in Aruba.
The agreement was recently formalized between the Government and Urban Hydro Tech Surinam in the presence of Mrs. Nathalie Maduro, Director of Santa Rosa and Mrs. Karin Paris, Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Integrity, Nature, Transport and the Elderly.
The project will officially start in January 2022.