Gratitude, pride and the sense of a significant opportunity. That was my initial response when the Minister for Economic Affairs, Henk Kamp, named us as a National Icon. The National Icons, which have been named for the second year now, are companies that are tackling social issues with innovations. The Cabinet actively undertakes promotional activities for the winners. This will ensure that my company and the ‘Growboxx’ will come to the attention of far more people, and we will be able to potentially scale up production further as a result. It will result in our worldwide breakthrough, I hope.
Column by Pieter Hoff, inventor and owner of Groasis (Dutch National Icon)
As a crop improver, I have travelled all over the world. I observed groundwater issues and mass deforestation in many places. I became very concerned about that yet I was also convinced that I could do something about it. That was the birth of Groasis. I look mainly to nature as the basis for my inventions. For example, everyone everywhere gets their water out of the ground, though water falls out of the air first, of course. That got me thinking, developing, and that is how the predecessor of the Growboxx came about.
I’ll just explain my invention briefly: The Growboxx makes it possible to repopulate drought-ridden regions with forest. It is an intelligent paper-based bucket that is fitted around a sapling. The bucket catches rainwater and morning dew, and prevents the water from evaporating. The bucket delivers dosed water, while the roots are given the opportunity to grow and to find groundwater.
But a (fruit) tree grows slowly and therefore yields nothing in the first few years. For that reason, it is also possible to grow vegetables around the young tree. After all, vegetables can be harvested as early as the first year, and that harvest can be used to pay for the box, for example. The invention has since proved itself, and in the meantime we have received an order from Mexico for one million boxes.
If it catches on, I will come closer to achieving my dream: a world in which planting trees is a more appealing prospect than cutting them down. I call that the ‘Treesolution’.