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UN digs young Brit’s idea to let refugees grow food

Bumper crops: Tomato plants thriving in the new hydroponics system developed by Adam Dixon (below) PICTURES: PHYTOPONICS/PA

A YOUNG British engineer will tomorrow receive a UN award for his ingenious scheme for growing food in disaster zones.

Adam Dixon, 25, has designed a hydroponics system to grow crops such as tomatoes in water-filled recyclable polymer film containers.

It all packs flat and requires ten times less land and water than conventional systems, so is ideal for use in refugee camps or areas hit by natural disasters.

Mr Dixon, from Pocklington, Yorkshire, has been named a UN Young Champion of the Earth.

The Cardiff University mechanical engineering graduate is one of six people under 30 worldwide to receive the award for ‘big ideas’ that protect or restore the environment.

He will receive £11,000 funding at a ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya, to help bring his idea to fruition, along with training and mentoring. His company, Phytoponics, is raising investment to develop the technology on a commercial scale.

Food aid: As the polymer containers pack flat they are ideal for disaster zones

Mr Dixon first used hydroponics to grow plants in his bedroom as a teenager. ‘There hasn’t been much evolution in the systems for a long time, and I think it’s ripe for development,’ he said.

‘It’s very sustainable because it uses much less land and water. It is a sustainable food technology.’

By 2050, he believes just ten per cent of land will be needed for agriculture.

His system is already being tried out for use in refugee camps.