In 2018, Crop One and Emirates Flight Catering (EKFC) announced that they will co-invest USD 40 million to build the world’s largest vertical farming facility near the Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central. Upon completion, the vertical farm facility was estimated to cover 130,000 square feet and produce the equivalent of 900 acres of an outdoor farm. The facility was estimated to harvest three US tons (2,700 kg) of high-quality leafy greens per day. To further the localization of the production, its proximity to the airport enables substantially reduce carbon emissions associated with transportation while ensuring quicker deliveries of fresh produce to the end-user.
The farm, named ECO 1, is considered to be the largest vertical farm in the world as reported in a recent article by Fast Company, leveraging its size to grow a variety of lettuce, spinach, arugula, and mixed greens. The farm runs on conventional energy, though the company plans to use solar power in the future. The company plans also to supply a fraction of the greens produced to the country’s inhabitants.
This project with Crop One constitutes one of many indoor vertical farms that are soon to be completed within the United Arab Emirates. Over the past weeks, we have seen an increasing number of deals closed with or by local companies, from Pure Harvest Smart Farm’s impressive funding round, Radisson-Blu hotel’s new hydroponic container farm, the projects awarded by Abu Dhabi to develop hydroponic farms, or upcoming plans to build an even greater vertical farm near the Dubai Expo site.
It is undeniable that the country is on track to achieving its objective outlined by the National Strategy for Food Security:
- make the UAE the world’s best in the Global Food Security Index by 2051 and among the top 10 countries by 2021.
- develop a comprehensive national system based on enabling sustainable food production through the use of modern technologies
- enhance local production
- develop international partnerships to diversify food sources
- activate legislation and policies that contribute to improving nutrition
- activate legislation and policies to reduce waste.