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Tower Power

Jean-Claude Rey describes an innovation identified by the IDEASS programme as replicable and sustainable methodologies for social territorial development


Agricultural towers are an answer to the management and preservation of water and soil.

They provide solutions for the lack of cultivable grounds and use solar energy. The main purpose of these towers is to allow local populations in developing countries to be selfsufficient with the production and preservation of their food, optimizing their use of water. Agricultural towers generate social and economic hubs; they are an answer to rural exodus, thus avoiding depopulation. They become a staging post for nomadic people to find water, food and energy. These towers generate employment and improve local economies by creating short supply chains. This technology employs local labour capable of working in the towers - the local populations are trained for the set up and the maintenance of these installations.

Adapted to every need (cultivating, pre-cultivating, tree nurseries, experimentation), the agricultural tower is totally self-sufficient and can even provide energy above its own needs. For large production units it's possible to equip them with elevators to make harvesting easier. They can also be converted into greenhouses for the winter using reinforced plastic sheeting fixed to the structure. Similarly, netting can also be used to protect from insects and the raised position prevents rodent attacks. Therefore, the number of production failures due to disease, pollution, bad weather, animals and insects is considerably reduced.

The success of this innovation was made possible with the support of the EBN network and the EU|BIC Thésame in Annecy (France) following the values of sustainable development. These multilevel towers are patented and have won many international prizes. In January 2010 they got the first prize of the EBN-UNDP IDEASS competition for innovation in human development oriented towards technologies in sustainable development.

IDEASS grew out of the major world summits in the 1990s and the Millennium General Assembly and it gives priority to cooperation between protagonists in the South, with the support of industrialised countries. The aim of IDEASS is to strengthen the effectiveness of local development processes through the increased use of innovations for human development. By means of south-south cooperation projects, it acts as a catalyst for the spread of social, economic and technological innovations that favour economic and social development at the local level.

Agricultural towers are the ideal solution for countries lacking cultivable grounds or subject to natural disasters. Climate change, the sudden rise of prices for raw materials and oil, will lead to a strong development of this type of farming. Governments, councillors, professionals, private associations and NGOs are the potential users of this type of structure in order to be autonomous with respect to production of a part of their food supplies. This innovation enables small and big producers to create their seedling, vegetables and fruits for their own use, for schools, refugees, etc.

IDEASS is a UN-supported initiative.

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Published on 29-05-2014 09:05 by David Tee. 1552 page views

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