About the Springboard Programme
The Youth SDG innovation platform for Asia-Pacific
Global warming, resource depletion and the global food crisis are major world problems that we face. Problems that are causing further global issues, such as social unrest and conflict. The conflict between Pakistan and India in 2016, for example, was over the water resource in Kashmir, and the ‘Day Zero’ drought that Cape town endured in 2018, was due to a 3-year rainfall deficit. However, this is just a glimpse of what is to come, unless more urgent climate action is taken.
The agricultural industry leads in the utilization of the world’s freshwater resource, accounting for about 70% of its use. What Cultivera has done, is develop an agricultural technique that conserves resources while enhancing the taste and vitality of vegetable crops. We have developed a technology that allows plants to take root in the harshest of environments, by promoting the growth of ‘capillary roots’ or ‘moisture-absorbing roots’ – a form of root that plants develop when exposed to high stress conditions. We are able to promote the growth of these capillary roots through the use of a special fibre, possessing an outstanding water absorption and retention capacity, and which also mimics around 15 cm of surface soil required for optimal vegetable growth. This patented humidity-based cultivation method, ‘Moisculture’, uses 1/10 of the water required for conventional farming, a fraction of the soil, and does not produce any agricultural runoff. Moisculture also enables the production of the same crop year-round.
Cultivera’s mission is to extend ‘life’ through the use of Moisculture. This technology liberates plants from the land and water constraints of the world, allowing for the sustainable production of vegetable crops anywhere in the world. We are currently challenging this technology to the next step, by using seawater to grow crops. We aim to develop an agricultural system that uses Moisculture and the nutrients contained in seawater, in order to support a growing population that inhabits a world with an every-changing climate.
Our Moisculture technology has allowed us to grow vegetables using a fraction of the water and energy required in conventional agricultural practices. In one day, a tomato averages around 2L of water consumption when cultivated through conventional farming, while we are able to grow tomatoes using only 200mL of water per plant – a 90% reduction in water use. Moisculture has also allowed us to grow vegetable crops using ¼ of the energy required in conventional farming. As global temperatures continue to rise, growing crops at the hottest time of year is becoming almost impossible. However, by using the Moisculture fibre, we have been able to successfully grow tomatoes throughout summer for the past 4 years. This is due to the fact that the Moisculture fibre is only 5mm in width, allowing for the efficient cooling of the plants’ root system. By circulating well water through a tube under the Moisculture fibre medium, we are able to cool the roots of the plants, which enables them to survive temperatures that would normally be unbearable. We currently have 24 locations using this technology – including farms in Japan and the US, as well as partnerships in South Africa and Taiwan – and are continuing our efforts to spread the Moisculture method of farming worldwide.
Youth Co:Lab Cohort
"While this experience has been amazing in a number of different ways, the largest take-away for me has been the connections I have made with so many young innovative entrepreneurs. The Youth Co:Lab Programme brings together such a diverse group of individuals, each with a goal to better the world in some way. While some concepts may seem separate and unrelated, I believe that improvements in one area of the sustainable development goals will impact the progress of the SDGs as a whole. As such, it has truly been a great experience being part of a programme that brings together people with all sorts of ideas and backgrounds, as it has enabled communication and collaboration that could lead to the development of a better future."