Climate-resilient greenhouse agriculture in the Caribbean

Greenhouse. Image: Jennifer C.

Writing for Forbes, Daphne Ewing-Chow profiles Alquimi Renewables LLC, a company working to address the Caribbean’s food insecurity through climate-resilient protected agriculture:

Alquimi’s mission is for Caribbean farms to expand considerably in scale and diversity to the point at which they can augment local farming of indigenous crops and eventually have the capacity to substitute imports. 

“Local farmers do an incredibly good job of growing many varieties of indigenous crops that are delicious and high in nutrient content. We see our role as filling the gaps presented by small size, limited arable land, the need for greater crop diversity and climate resilience, in the context of extreme environmental vulnerability. These are the main challenges that need to be overcome to build Caribbean food security in the years to come.”

Specifically, Alquimi is producing greenhouses and protected agriculture solutions that are tailored to the Caribbean situation, including the need to withstand extreme heat, humidity, and hurricanes:

Birkhoff believes that, while greenhouse systems are not a novel concept in the region, results have been less than favourable due to the blanket reproduction of design and production solutions from markets that do not share the same realities as the Caribbean.

“The Caribbean and other tropical and sub-tropical islands have been home to greenhouse and hydroponic farms cultivating specialty horticultural crops for decades now,” says Alquimi’s Master Grower, Joseph ‘JC’ Chidiac.  …“Hurricanes have laid waste to hundreds of inadequate greenhouse structures. Until now, tropical heat and humidity have made environmental control virtually impossible, and inefficient cultivation systems have increased the cost of growing food to impractical levels.” 

From the outset, [the team at Alquimi] knew that in order for a greenhouse solution to be cost effective, it would require the capacity to withstand the most extreme weather events— including a category 5 hurricane.

Alquimi is currently in the process of launching its first farm operations in Anguilla, Trinidad and Tobago and Puerto Rico, with more than 10 other island projects ready to launch in the coming year.

To read more about this innovation in protected agriculture in the Caribbean, including the regional companies that are investing in the initiative, read the full Forbes article and visit the Alquimi Renewables website.

[Image: Jennifer C.]

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