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Flexibility during times of COVID-19

How the FHNW and exploreASEAN manage the effects of the pandemic

Read more about that balance of protecting and running our project today while retooling it for tomorrow to thrive after the pandemic.
We had the great honour to speak with local newspaper “General Anzeiger” about our project and the challenge of managing the effects of the pandemic (COVID-19).
A great article on the lessons that we have learned and that will hopefully benefit future project teams!
We hope you enjoy reading it.

Your exploreASEAN Team

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Food security in densely populated cities

How can you provide food security for one of the world’s most densely populated cities when you have no land for agriculture?

With a population of five million people on a landmass of only 715 square kilometres, Singapore is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Due to its densely populated area, Singapore is highly dependent on the food imports from its neighbouring countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia.

This is not an issue that solely concerns the island of Singapore. By 2030 global food production will have to double, to feed all people on earth properly. Due to the usage of antibiotics, oil, soy, and so on, today, food production has a significantly negative impact on our environment and is accelerating climate change. Consequently, we must look for alternative means of production.

In recent years Singapore has started to implement the concept of Vertical Farming. Vertical farming, also called Skyscraper Farming, moves away from planting crops on large pieces of land but utilises high-rise buildings, such as old factory buildings or warehouses, to produce food. Crops are stacked on top of each other in a climate-controlled indoor facility. This food revolution manages to deliver considerable yields with considerably less land, water, and energy resources.

Most vertical farms use enclosed structures, similar to greenhouses, which massively save space. Hydroponic methodsuse mineralised water as a growing medium instead of soil which reduces the water requirements by up to 70%. The use of aeroponics further reduces weight and water requirements. Vertical farming typically uses a mix of natural light and artificial light. Artificial lighting is often LED-based and may be driven by a renewable power source such as solar power or wind turbines. Pesticides or herbicides are not necessary because the crops do not need any soil. Vertical farming, therefore, eliminates numerous manual labour tasks. Moreover, the use of robots and AI enables a vertical farm to provide consistent, high-quality, and prodigious output.

Not only does vertical farming help to reduce water, land and energy resources usage, it also minimizes carbon dioxide emissions by preceding the transportation of foreign products. As the organic food and beverage market are expected to grow immensely soon, Vertical Farming is likely to turn into a highly promising market. Thanks to this food revolution, Singapore is now able to enjoy environmental-friendly and local products.

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The success of artificial rain generation

The success of artificial rain generation has attracted worldwide attention and led to requests for knowledge exchange from several Asian countries

Water shortage is one of the most critical global problems of today. The United Nations estimates that more than 40 percent of the world’s population lives with or in conditions of water shortage. In Thailand, agriculture covers almost 70 percent of total land use, and a high-water supply is required to sustain it. As a consequence, there are sporadic dry periods throughout the country. In combination with decades of massive deforestation, the lack of rainfall increases the droughts, especially during the dry season. Over 82% of Thailand’s agricultural land is dependent on rainfall; thus Thai farmers face difficulties growing crops due to the lack of water.
 
In 1955, when then beloved Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej realized that many regions were struggling with the problem of drought, he initiated the Royal Regeneration Project of Thailand. The “Rain Generation Project” is a proposed solution to counter the lack of rainfall by using artificial rain generation or cloud seeding. According to the Desert Research Institute, Cloud seeding is a type of weather modification that aims to change the amount or type of precipitation that falls from clouds, by dispersing substances into the air that serve as cloud condensation or ice nuclei, which alter the microphysical processes within the cloud.
 
The Royal Rainfall Generation Project was first launched in Khao Yai National Park on 20 July 1969 at the King’s behest. Dry ice flakes were scattered over clouds, and there were reports of some rainfall. Following the launch, in 1971 the government set up the research and development project for artificial rain generation within the Thai Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
 
Since the introduction of the technology, the invention has gone through a series of changes which have enabled the transfer of technological expertise. It also stimulated cooperation between different regional and international actors with the common goal of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the artificial rainmaking process. To “make it rain”, the following steps are applied: “agitation” to activate cloud formation by using weather modification techniques; “fattening” to activate the accumulation of cloud droplets and finally “attacking” to trigger rain from the cloud.
 
The Royal Rainfall Generation Project has attracted worldwide attention and let to requests for knowledge exchange from several Asian countries. Interest was also shown from the Middle East, where farmers suffer from dry climates and extremely long dry seasons. Jordan, which has an annual rainfall of 20 to 200 millimetres, is the only country thus far to have considered the operation due to its geographic and climatic conditions. The procedure is expected to alleviate the side effects of the climate change that the country is suffering from, which is causing precipitation to drop from 15 to 60 percent per year.