Hydroponic farming where soil is replaced with nutrient-rich water to nourish plants, is a cost-effective way to farm, and can be done anywhere, according to Oracle Farming Tech co-founder Kutlwano Tisane.
Tisane and his business partner Percyval Alset started operating as a business in 2018.
The Rustenburg youngsters, who are both 23-years-old, embarked on the journey to start an SMME that specialises in installing hydroponic farming systems, after they saw a gap in the agriculture industry while researching alternative technologies.
“We realised that there is a market for the business, even though it was underdeveloped because there is a lack of awareness,” Tisane said.
“People we spoke to knew about hydroponics after seeing it on Google and seeing what the Chinese are doing, but nobody actually thought that it would be easily accessible for them.”
Tisane told Vutivi News that hydroponics was a type of horticulture where various alternative technologies involving water.
“It’s a method of growing plants through a medium called a rockwool or a coco peat without the use of soil. In the case of hydroponic farming, the rockwool substitutes the soil; it has all the minerals needed to replicate the soil,” he said.
“We realised that with hydroponics you use 90% less land. And because hydroponic systems can be built in such a way that you can utilise the vertical space of a yard, and we’ve realised that the lack of land is (not) a barrier of entry into the industry.”
Tisane said their hydroponic systems ensured that farming was brought to the people.
“We are on a mission to empower those who lack and do not possess the land with the tools to farm as if they have the means, placing them in a… favourable position,” he said.
Also, it used 90% less water compared to traditional commercial farming.
“This model works, however, for subsistence farming. If you want to farm on a commercial scale, you should either have access to a borehole or be closer to a riverbank. With hydroponics, the water is recycled back into the system throughout the month,” Tisane said.
Oracle Farming Tech has 10 permanent employees and 10 temporary staffers.
“We get a lot of projects, so we hire unemployed people from our own townships, some of whom are guys we know,” he said.
“We always try to make sure that we create opportunities for them when it comes to projects so that they can also make a living.”
The company has helped farmers across the South Africa.
“We built projects in Limpopo, in Gauteng and in other provinces as well,” he said.
While the market was relatively small, it was a challenge the two co-owners were constantly striving to overcome, Tisane said.
“We’re still finding new ways to develop new technologies that will make it more efficient,” he said.
“There’s no blueprint in the hydroponic business. The industry is small (and) there is a lack of awareness when it comes to the technology. A lot of people don’t know that it’s easily accessible.”
Tisane said the company had been successful because it was able to sell items to installation projects in a relatively short space of time.