Among the Middle Eastern countries, the UAE has the worst water scarcity, behind Kuwait. Therefore, a clever approach is required in farming. With the introduction of the world’s largest vertical farm in Dubai, high-tech, low-water agriculture is now poised for a new superlative, and its products may soon be arriving on a flight near you.
Located in Dubai World Central, the 330,000-square-foot complex is close to Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It could produce more than 2 million pounds of green vegetables each year. In 2018, Emirates Flight, the airline’s culinary division, and indoor vertical farming business Crop One struck a $40 million joint venture agreement to set up Emirates Crop One.
Although only a tiny amount of the UAE’s land is considered agriculturally productive, it is said that the country imports up to 85% of its food requirements. This makes hyperproductive indoor vertical farming an ideal way to create their products. The method is “seasonless”, and yields produce every day of the year. To generate the highest output, temperature and humidity are closely regulated in modular containers where plants are fed a nutritional solution rather than soil and LED grow lights are used instead of sunlight.
Emirates Flight Catering CEO Saeed Mohammed claims the action “secures our own supply chain of high quality and locally sourced fresh vegetables while significantly reducing our environmental footprint.”
The products will be sold at outlets under the Bustanica brand to residents of the United Arab Emirates. The greens don’t need to be pre-washed because they are cultivated without chemicals, herbicides, or pesticides.
Vertical farms are criticised for having significant energy requirements. However, by using renewable energy to power them and improving the efficiency of their LED lights, their carbon impact could be decreased. In addition to aiming for solar energy, Crop One revealed that its forthcoming facility would use a mix of renewable and utility sources of energy.
“We are proud to bring Crop One’s best-in-class technology to this innovative food production facility alongside our joint venture partner,” Crop One CEO Craig Ratajczyk said in a written statement.” ECO 1 will address growing supply chain challenges and food security concerns while introducing vertically farmed produce to millions of new consumers.” Our mission is to develop a sustainable future to fulfil worldwide demand for fresh, local food, and this new farm is the physical representation of that commitment. This new facility serves as a model for what’s possible around the globe.”
Dickson Despommier, author of “The Vertical Farm” and professor emeritus of public and environmental health at Columbia University, said: “To see a major economic player like Emirates Airlines getting involved in an alternative to importing all their food is remarkable. The industry has grown to the point where they can do that and expect a return on their investment.”
Hence, vertical farming is Dubai’s answer to the future, beating or changing the traditional ways of agriculture.