Saturday, March 22, 2014

Looking at a problem from all sides: Water - Agriculture 1

There is clear consensus across all of the research and all of the stakeholders that water availability is a challenge and it is going to only get worse.  What isn’t in agreement is what to do about it.

Two members of our team took an interest in water.  Margaret started investigating irrigation efforts and Sean took a look at fog harvesting.  Before long, Sean’s research uncovered current, local MIT research in fog harvesting and this gave us an opportunity for some local, pre-trip meetings.  These meetings along with additional research gave Sean some great information that helped him build out a few hypotheses for our team to focus on.  This was a key part of our pre-trip planning and organization.  The extra effort Sean went through to build out a business case framework allowed our team to identify meeting topics we wanted to flush out on our trip.

Before long, Sean’s salesman skills helped us book several meetings.  At one point we even started to wonder if we had too many fog meetings.  We decided as a team to keep scheduling these meetings and if need be split up to cover them.  What was important about these meetings was the breadth of stakeholders they covered from academic research to NGOs and government ministries to individual farmers/entrepreneurs.  This breadth gave us an opportunity to really investigate the problem from all points of view and understand where the opportunities existed.

Given the short duration of the trip there were of course meetings and visits that were just not possible to schedule.  We would have loved to travel into the mountains of Peru to visit an actual installation.  But looking back on our trip, while our schedule was hectic at times, we feel we maximized our schedule to collect as much information as possible to explore the business opportunities of fog harvesting. 

By: Amber Conley

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