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Can vertical farming ever become mainstream?

Amid the growing concerns about climate change and feeding the world's increasing population, especially in urban conurbations in developing countries, Simon Harvey investigates whether vertical farming – growing fresh produce in a controlled environment – can become well-established in the market.

The nascent vertical-farming industry is growing and gaining prominence among investors and governments that recognise the potential in a world where land availability for producing fresh food is fast diminishing, especially in countries with increasing urban populations.

Singapore is a prime example of an economy with a limited land mass for agricultural farming, leaving the city-state reliant on imports to feed its expanding population and turning to new technologies such as vertical farming and cell-grown meat. And with much of Singapore dominated by skyscrapers, it is cultivating fresh food on window ledges and rooftops of commercial and residential buildings in self-contained growing units.

But vertical farming as its name implies may be a bit misleading, which is why it also carries the designation of urban or indoor farming, or, what the chief executive of UK government-backed CHAP (Crop Health and Protection) prefers to call controlled-environment farming. As well as growing produce in stacked shelf-style units, it also takes the form of using redundant shipping containers known as 'cooltainers' and abandoned subway tunnels, employing the most-widely used hydroponics and aeroponics technologies – at least currently – without the need for soil and fields.

Read more at just-food (Simon Harvey)

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