Southern Africa is a collection of ten countries in which 120 million people live. It has a land area of 6 million square kilometers, with a population of just over 120 million people. The countries making up Southern Africa are Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namíbia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe (3). Only 8.7% of Southern African is arable land (2). Malawi has the highest amount of arable land whilst Botswana and Namibia have the lowest. Only South Africa is currently food secure in the region because its commercial agricultural sector can produce sufficient food to feed its population in most years.
Greater than 45% of the population lives in extreme poverty on less than US$1.90 per day (1). On average only 9% of the land in SA is arable. Much of SA is semi-desert. People living on non-arable land are seldom able to procure sufficient fresh food to eat with severe health consequences (2). Vertical Farming does not require arable land or processed groundwater. Vertical Farming reduces the use of water and fertilizer by more than 90% and eliminates the use of pesticides (23). Vertical Farms can currently supply certain packaged crops which are both environmentally and economically sustainable, to the retail trade in urban areas. Vertical Farms in rural areas can provide fresh food that is environmentally sustainable but is currently not economically viable at affordable prices. Understanding the current limitations of Vertical Farming provides the basis on which to build the innovations that will allow Vertical Farming to provide the food security necessary for Southern Africa.
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Contribution from Richard Lomax