The Puerto Rico Techno Economic Corridor inaugurated Growponics, a high-technology hydroponic nursery in Isabela following an investment of more than $1.6 million in its first phase, and creating eight direct jobs.
The project, designed for planting and harvesting green vegetables, is part of the Finca Explora ecosystem, the island’s first agro-technological incubator located in the southern town.
Growponics employs cutting-edge technology that has been tested in national and international markets, such as: Connecticut, Hawaii, England, Turkey and China.
The Finca Explora facilities combine two types of hydroponic systems, which work through software and proprietary algorithms that are responsible for providing the appropriate nutrients, environment management and irrigation to the different crops.
It also relies on machinery and other innovative methods that optimize the use of resources such as water, energy, labor and agricultural space. As an example, the water cooling process promotes quicker production of crops year-round. The entire system has eight patents exclusive to Growponics, executives said.
“Currently, Puerto Rico imports 90% of the leafy vegetables consumed. With this project we hope to increase local production, in addition to that, we can integrate new varieties of vegetables,” said Javier Lamoso, Growponics Puerto Rico CEO.
“So far, we’re experimenting with 11 different leafy vegetables that are currently not available in the Puerto Rico market. We have an optimal capacity to produce the equivalent of 30,000 weekly heads,” he said.
“That with only 10% of the water that would be required to obtain the same harvest in a traditional way. With our technology we can feed more people and in a healthier and more efficient way,” said Lamoso.
The firm conducted studies and research that validate that most of the nutrients and vitamins in green vegetables are lost after approximately 10 days of being harvested. In Puerto Rico’s case of, due to the distance and the length of time it takes to import the product, it is rare for there to be lettuce in grocery stores with less than 10 days of being harvested.
The Growponics production process has been designed with the highest quality standards for the health and safety of crops, executives said.
Starting with its first harvest, Growponics will comply with the quality parameters established by the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act.