Having experienced the worst of the Kerala floods in 2018 and their effect on food supply moved a young expat from Sharjah to launch an initiative that would tackle issues created by climate change around the world. Prathyusha Paresh, a student of Sharjah English School (SES), along with her sister Shubangi, established EcoTerre, a student-led initiative that gas already gained global attention from students across South East Asia and the US. Prathyusha initially sounded out her idea to her friends, and was surprised to be greeted with enthusiasm. Starting from a core group of friends, EcoTerre would expand to include like-minded students from other schools who share a passion for protecting the environment and incorporating innovative sustainable methods in their daily lives.

Banking on Prathyusha’s experience in hi-tech sustainable farming methods, the group decided to embark on hydroponics, a soil-less cultivation method, as their initial project. The idea was selected because of its use of minimal resources to "grow your own food". By producing locally, the students believe that they are working towards not only sustainable food production, but also reducing carbon footprint.

From the outset EcoTerre wanted to give back to society and for their first beneficiaries, they choose labourers in the UAE, who have played an integral part in the rapid development of this nation. Members of EcoTerre started new project at labour accommodations, where they installed hydroponic units that can grow various types of vegetables like tomato, cucumber, lettuce etc. Strongly committed to their cause, EcoTerre members installed the hydroponic units even during the hot summer months. After the installation, the group also trained the workers on the basics of hydroponics and how to reproduce a similar model by themselves.

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Suhana Gupta, a student of SES and one of the pioneering members of EcoTerre, says there is a need to fight climate change through a sustainable approach as she looks forward to installing more hydroponics units. Obert Dsouza, project director of EcoTerre, believes that agriculture through soil-less farming is the key to fight food shortage in countries like UAE, where arable land is minimal.

EcoTerre has installed soil-less farming units at eight labour accommodations across the UAE, including Dubai and RAK, free of cost. Those interested in contributing to this initiative may visit ecoterre.net.

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