Utrecht, The Netherlands
Georgios Agkavanakis, Franco Grosso Giordano, Janin Herkrath, Yurhan Kwee, Emma Luitjens, Rushi Sanjeev Mehta,
An automated, open-source design to protect tea plants from frost damage, inspired by the giant groundsel and giant lobelia plants.
HABARI increases farmers’ resilience to weather conditions, and connects the farms with the local community by using local and sustainable products.
1. What is the problem you’re trying to solve and how does your design help?
As the effects of climate change are starting to be felt, unpredictable patterns of heavy weather become a new concern for many farmers. With destroyed crops, climate change is not only affecting our environment, but also putting great risks on our food security, and, in turn, on the livelihoods of many farmers. Hours of intense frost, 10 minutes of hail or heavy solar radiation can destroy a farmers’ entire season’s yield. HABARI acts as a barrier against the weather and protects the crops. It closes and opens automatically according to environmental changes, similarly to the flora that inspired it. HABARI is made from locally abundant materials or repurposed waste, mimicking nature by not relying on scarcity and using resources in its immediate surroundings. Finding suitable materials in your vicinity will be done via the global smart database containing available materials and design improvements, which will grow together with the HABARI community of users.
2. What makes your design different than previous or current approaches to the problem you’re trying to solve? What are the social, cultural, and/or environmental wins that your innovation provides?
HABARI distinguishes itself from similar functional products by being an adaptable toolkit which is made from locally available and life-friendly materials. Other products are created to solely fit one growing region and protect against one weather event. HABARI, however, is an open source DIY-toolkit that is customizable and, hence, will always fit the customer’s needs. Using local materials allows a significant reduction in the carbon footprint. At the same time, it generates value for local materials, which helps the local economy and creates awareness of the local environment. Additionally, HABARI does not use electricity to function, making it cheaper and more simple. By making HABARI open sourced and by creating its own smart digital database, we can offer a continuously updated design of HABARI accessible to all farmers on the world. HABARI ensures that yields are secured, food security safeguarded, and incomes for farmers ensured.
3. How did you apply lessons from living organisms to your design and what difference did that make?
By studying nature, we understood the most efficient ways to overcome local climatic difficulties. We found out about the giant groundsel (Dendrosenecio kilimanjari) and giant lobelia (Lobelia deckenii), two high-altitude plants native to Eastern Africa that adapt to daily frost. The plants’ waxy layer and leaf movements protect the inner tissues and buds from frost. We mimicked these two properties in HABARI to create the device’s waxy cover and its ability to automatically open and close. Nature’s solutions to frost showed that redundancy can be key in innovations. Additionally, natural systems are based on cooperation. Successful organisms are those that interact with their surroundings. This inspired us to create a global smart database, where farmers could help improve each other’s practices and HABARI units. At the same time, this database would provide a place where people could discover the intrinsic value in local materials.