African agriculture is facing significant challenges as it strives to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population to overcome these challenges and support the development of future food systems and economic transformation. Indoor vertical farming is emerging as a promising solution.
Vertical farming is a format of agriculture that uses artificial lighting to grow crops in multi-tiered structures in an indoor environment. This innovative approach to farming offers several benefits that could help to overcome some of the challenges facing African agriculture.
First, Paucek et al., 2023 argue that vertical farming has the potential to deliver high productivity rates, as crops are grown in a controlled environment with ideal growing conditions. This can result in higher yields and more consistent quality of produce.
In addition, food safety and quality are also improved in a vertical farming environment, as it reduces the risk of exposure to disease and contaminants. Furthermore, year-round production is possible, as the controlled environment eliminates the need for seasonal planting and harvesting.
Another significant advantage of vertical farming is that it enables more sustainable use of resources. This is because it minimizes the water required for crop growth, reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides, and eliminates the need for large amounts of arable land to assess the potential for integrating vertical farming technology in Africa, a recent study focused on 54 African states. The study results showed that South Africa, Seychelles, Egypt, Mauritius, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Cape Verde, and Nigeria have the best prospects for implementing indoor vertical farming.
Of these countries, Seychelles, South Africa, and Egypt are the most likely to be able to sustain vertical indoor farming in the long term. These countries are well-positioned to take advantage of the benefits of vertical farming, as they have the necessary infrastructure, resources, and investment to make it a reality.
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