Dutch pioneer of indoor agriculture, Plantlab, has announced a collaboration with Saudi Greenhouses to build indoor farms across the Middle East and North Africa. The first location, opening in Q1 2024 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, will provide numerous jobs and fits with Saudi Vision 2030, the strategic framework to reduce oil dependence and broaden the economy. The 250 to 300 million euros investment aims to build a minimum of ten indoor farms within three to five years, providing hundreds of additional jobs.
Plantlab’s indoor farming method enables crops to grow to their full potential by controlling temperature, moisture, and light without using fungicides or pesticides and with 95 percent less water required. The first location, adjacent to the Saudi Greenhouses greenhouse complex, will produce various leafy greens sold locally, ensuring minimal environmental impact. Plantlab’s production sites, including barren soil or urban areas, can be located anywhere globally.
Eelco Ockers, CEO of Plantlab, stated that this collaboration would significantly increase food security in the region. At the same time, Jawid Bunyadi, BD Director of Plantlab Middle East, added that the aim was to grow fresh food locally. The cooperation agreement signed by both companies demonstrates a commitment to developing the food and agricultural sector in the Middle East and North Africa, boosting local employment, and increasing access to fresh produce. Furthermore, with the opening of the first location in Riyadh in 2024, Plantlab’s innovative indoor farming technology will be introduced to the region.
Saudi Arabia’s Push for Controlled Environment Agriculture: Recent Developments and Challenges
Saudi Arabia has recently seen a significant push in the Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) sector, with private and public companies announcing new projects, funding, and partnerships. The country’s government has also announced a plan to invest over $1Bn in expanding the country’s plant resources and greenhouses by 2025 to reach a production output of over 1 million tons of fresh produce annually.
However, the CEA sector may face disruptions in the future, such as issues related to cooling facilities in the scorching summer temperatures, competition with imported products from other countries with lower operational expenditures, limited crop range, and access to quality seeds and fertilizers. Despite these potential challenges, the country’s focus on CEA development is part of its more extensive efforts to become self-reliant on food production and ensure food security in the future.
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Image provided by Plantlab