About the Project
Affordable Greenhouse Venture Sierra Leone was funded by Penn State's Sustainability Institute's Reinvention Fund at the University Park campus in the amount of $4,950.
Building upon existing work completed by the HESE (Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship) program at Penn State, the project's goal is to refine current affordable greenhouse technology in preparation for large-scale dissemination through a network of distribute micro-enterprises throughout West Africa.
A multi-disciplinary team of students from engineering, agriculture, business, health and human development, law, and other colleges are mentored by professors and entrepreneurs who have significant experience developing and disseminating appropriate technologies in resource-constrained environments.
Why greenhouses? Why Sierra Leone?
We are living in an increasingly interconnected global community with shared challenges, resources and solutions. In order to utilize precious resources in a responsible manner and develop appropriate and sustainable solutions, we can no longer have an “us” versus “them” attitude to global sustainable development.
Over 200 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have insufficient food while one-third of them are grossly malnourished. Food security issues have escalated in recent years due to factors of drought and high level of poverty amongst farmers. There is broad agreement on the need to help smallholder farmers in the developing world to move from subsistence to sustainability, and larger private sector engagement in agriculture. Developing countries, like Kenya and Sierra Leone, have an agrarian economy and over 80% of the people depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. The climate is characterized by a long rainy season from March to May and a short rainy season from October to December. Heavy rainfall often destroys most cash crops and long dry seasons inhibit farmers from growing productively on arid land. Year-long farming in such areas is not possible. One approach to this problem is greenhouse farming.