Recently, the Ministry of Environment, Water & Agriculture has set aside SR100 million (USD 27 million) to research and develop vertical-farming technology as it seeks to respond to rising demand.
According to Arab News, The National Research and Development Center for Sustainable Agriculture (Estidamah) in Saudi Arabia aims to develop relationships with leading global pioneers in this sector. Vertical farming facilities are set to be introduced in facilities to localize this modern agricultural approach.
“In addition to being a source of fresh crops for urban residents in particular, vertical farming is believed to be a promising means of providing crops to keep pace with the steady increase in the population of the Earth, which is expected to exceed 9 billion people by 2050,” Abdulrahman Abdullah Al-Soqeer, a faculty member at Qasim University and a member of the board of directors of Estidamah, told Arab News.
“The importance of vertical farming lies in the small space it requires, especially in large cities that are witnessing large waves of migration; two out of every three people are expected to be living in urban areas during the coming decades.
“A key advantage of vertical farming is the provision of a variety of agricultural products, particularly leafy vegetables and strawberries, in small areas and with less water and in an environmentally friendly manner. Some crops can be produced in locations close to consumers, reducing the need to transport products through traditional means that increase pollutants in cities.
“The global market for vertical farming is rapidly growing, especially in some developed countries with high population densities.” Faleh Al-Juhani, an expert in vertical farming, told Arab News: “The goal of vertical farming is to obtain as much food as possible and expand the variety of crops by creating exceptional climatic conditions through which we can raise production rates per square meter, so long as the appropriate conditions are available in terms of lighting, sustainability and growth and design.”
Saudi Arabia Vertical Farming Leaders
Red Sea Farms
Red Sea Farms is committed to solving one of today’s greatest problems – how to feed the world in the face of diminishing resources. Red Sea Farms cares about the planet just as much as people. Combining impact with innovation through saltwater-based agriculture products, systems and services Red Sea Farms promotes environmental and economic sustainability by meeting the nutritional needs of water-scarce populations. The approach is a world-leading blend of plant science, sustainable cooling, light and energy management and systems that use Artificial Intelligence.
Significant investment from AppHarvest, Bonaventure Capital, Aramco venture Wa’ed, the Future Investment Initiative Institute, KAUST from Saudi Arabia, and Global Ventures of the UAE has enabled Red Sea Farms to raise $16m in an oversubscribed funding round that occurred in late August 2021.
In November, The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), the developer behind the world’s most ambitious regenerative tourism project, has partnered with Red Sea Farms, a Saudi Arabian AgTech business, to develop a sustainable food supply for The Red Sea’s flagship destination using sunlight and saltwater.
National Security Concerns
There are concerns that are raising as tensions in the middle-east region have kept on worsening in the past years, especially with the Yemen war. This had led to many attacks in the country mainly targeting oil fields and other plants belonging to the largest company in the country, ARAMCO. One could question whether such a vertical farming facility could be, one day, targetted by such an attack as it concentrates an important proportion of the country’s food security in a tight space…
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