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Canada-Africa Business Conference

April 24, 2019

The Dunya Project is grateful to have been apart of the inaugural Canada-Africa Business Conference held on March 26-27th, 2019 in Gaborone, Botswana. As apart of the delegation with the Canada-Africa Chamber of Business, this is our first foray onto the African continent.

Globally we know that the agricultural landscape is changing – the current food system is broken.  To meet future needs, we must look at how modern farming techniques like hydroponics – which can increase productivity, efficiency and profitability overall can help.  The Dunya Project is defined by its unique approach to empower communities to grow food locally anywhere irrespective of the climate conditions is the vision at the centre of Dunya.  Our modular hydroponic farming habitats are low in cost, easy-to-assemble, climate-controlled and scalable. It is a flat-pack system that enables farmers to grow produce quickly year-round, within various climate conditions without soil, no pesticides, and 90% less water use allowing for a minimal carbon footprint through the use of our integrated precision farming sensor interface app and a digital marketplace to allow for income-generating opportunities.

The African continent is an important agricultural market for Dunya, as much of its economy is inherently dependent on agriculture – with more than 60% of its 1.166 billion people living in rural areas. The agricultural potential for African countries is significant but untapped. Botswana, with it unique location as part of the South African Development Community, its vast area, stability, a booming young population and tropical climate – certainly provides great potential for mutual growth.

Being that Botswana’s agricultural landscape is greatly affected by the fact that much of the country is encompassed by the Kalahari Desert and is heavily dependent on rain-fed agriculture. Its recent lengthy season of droughts are anything but challenges for Dunya.  As a nation in which 70% of its rural households derive their livelihoods from agriculture through subsistence farming, at Dunya we see the opportunity for new agricultural technologies to help issues of food scarcity, high unemployment, poverty and climate change.

An increase in agricultural productivity using new technologies and methods could help Botswana have access to nutritious vegetables that are grown locally that in turn can reduce poverty, enhance food security, provide sustainable growth and help alleviate the challenges of climate change.

With that in mind, our time at the Canada-Africa Business Conference in Botswana was spent building relations with potential local partners - proving to be both productive and presenting meaningful learning and business opportunities.  Dunya CEO, Sugeevan Shanmuganathan spoke on a panel with distinguished members from the World Bank, Process Research Ortech, Hatch and Ingeni on the need for sustainability and the adoption of new tech in the agricultural sector. Our team was also fortunate to meet with local educational institutions, farmers, entrepreneurs, the Botswana Association of Local Authorities and the Ministry of Agriculture – which allowed us to understand the market potential and challenges that exists within Botswana.