Over the past few months, vertical farming in the middle east has expanded exponentially, with record-breaking funding rounds, an increasing number of partnerships, expansion announcements, and government-related investments.
Given the environmental conditions (Arable land is scarce, harsh weather, and access to water is hard), most countries in the GCC region import more than 90% of the food consumed in their respective territories. The pandemic and the subsequent supply chain disruptions caused by it has shed light on the importance of food security and independence for some of these countries that faced important disruptions in their food supply, empty shelves, and inflated prices.
Since that, governments in the region have implemented new food security plans in order to decrease their reliance on other countries and guarantee their independence.
Today we take a look at the various projects, companies and partnerships that have cemented the region’s position as a promising segment of the vertical farming industry.
The United Arab Emirates, The Region’s Spearhead
The United Arab Emirates have been one of the catalysts of the region’s vertical farming development, attracting investments from around the world and initiating vast projects. Recently, Crop One & Emirates Flight Catering opened one of the largest vertical farm in the world growing a variety of lettuce, spinach, arugula, and mixed greens that will be supplied to Emirates and also to the cities inhabitants. Other vertical farms have recently opened, with smaller scales facilities opening in two of the cities hotels (Raddisson Blu Deira Creek and Mariott Hotel).
Other facilities are due to be open, for instance Aerofarm’s AgX research center expected to open a 90,000 square foot indoor vertical farm that will be the world’s largest of its kind. The farm will be dedicated to state-of-the-art R&D and commercialization of relevant local crops utilizing AeroFarms’ expertise and proprietary indoor vertical farming technology that uses up to 95% less water and zero pesticides vs. traditional field farming. This new R&D facility will employ a projected 60+ high skilled roles for horticulturists, engineers, and data scientists, and among other skills.
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