Engineers believe vertical farming offers the answer to food sustainability

When Chew Jo Han decided to set up a small hydroponic system in his office because his fashion start-up was not doing well, his friends Jayden Koay, Looi Choon Beng and Low Cheng Yang joked that, if nothing else, he could survive on the vegetables grown! But, jokes aside, Koay, Looi and Low were struck by how the plants were grown using artificial light. 

With his interest piqued, Koay soon started filling his own balcony at home with hydroponic plants and even converted his bathtub into a germination area for seedlings. “I started my own system, and my (now business) partners also started to do the same, at home or in their offices, ” said Koay, 32. They then discovered a common problem, the industry was still in its infancy and materials, equipment like hydroponic fertilizers had to be bought from countries like Japan, Singapore, China and Taiwan. And, they were expensive.

“We realized that if we needed these materials, more urban farmers in the country would also need them. So, over a mamak session one day, we decided to start up a company to address this issue, ” he said. CityFarm Malaysia was established in 2016. Within six months, they reported impressive sales. In 2017, they were invited to join a United Nations program held in Kuala Lumpur, where they gained a bigger perspective on urban farming, and specifically, vertical farming. 

Read more at The Star (Wong Li Za) 

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