I had an idea three years ago to develop an open source food production, distribution and sales network and I think I found at least part of what I was thinking of here! So I wondered if anyone had any thoughts about my idea.
There exists in the world technology that allows for the production, distribution and sales of food produce on a large scale. From high tech greenhouses to supermarket supply chains these technologies exist and are in use by for profit organisations to streamline their business processes and maximise productivity and profitability.
There does not exist an open source competitor in this field. Especially not one that incorporates all the functions into one system. So my proposal is the creation of an open source food production, distribution and sales network with the goal of offering people in both developed and developing countries the tools they need to set up their own high tech agribusinesses without the high cost and the steep learning curve involved in creating such a business.
The concept itself is based at it’s foundation on a network of independently owned and operated aquaponic greenhouses which would serve as learning/investment hubs for other types of farming in the local area. Each hub would focus on a select few items of produce to grow for the wider network. The network in turn would link the hubs with other hubs allowing for the bartering of produce based on a multivariate analysis of the cost of each unit of produce. For example the number of man hours involved, the time taken to grow, the amount of energy and other resources required for growth would enable you to compare the relative value of a carrot to a tomato, for example, and as such the individual hubs, which would be community owned organisations, can trade between themselves for what they require without the need for monetary compensation.
The surplus produce can then be distributed from rural areas, the idea came to me to use this technology in rural parts of South Africa that have been historically impoverished and cut off from civilisation, to towns and cities through central hubs that operate as non profit organisations to coordinate the wider network of independent hubs. Thus creating an opportunity for local food production and a means of raising funds for communities that are remote and impoverished.
A major part of this system would be that it would include something like an online university in agricultural practices offering instructional videos and tutorials demonstrating everything from the construction and maintenance of the greenhouses to in depth lessons on the most effective way of growing each specific crop. This would not be limited to greenhouse production but also to field agriculture and could offer instruction on alternative production methods such as permaculture and organic farming.
From the point of view of distribution and sales I would expect the system to incorporate a logistical element that would enable the automation of much of this side of the equation. Transport to and from the main hub would replenish food supplies at the remote hubs automatically and each hub would have it’s own farm shop which would sell to the public the produce grown there and at other hubs.
The main hub would be responsible for both the local distribution of food, and supplies, and the distribution outside of the network to towns and cities. This would bring wealth into these communities flowing from the cities, where wealth has accumulated, directly to the local communities that grew the food. This would enact a natural balancing of wealth and move a portion of the wealth generated by big for-profit industries into the hands of those who can do the most good with it; the local community.
As I said earlier the concept would work in both developed and developing communities. It would bring jobs and education to people all over the world and as can be seen in the rise of inner city farming initiatives and the use of commercial aquaponics greenhouses, this concept is nothing new in it’s separate parts but as a whole it will, I believe, create something powerful that will bring an incredible diversity of benefits to the world.