At the 88.17 hectare Agriculture High Tech Park in Ho Chi Minh City, Center for Business Incubation of Agricultural Hi-Tech (AHBI), a first batch is underway with 100% indoor cultivated strawberries. The first batch was planted earlier this year and harvest is expected within 3 months. The AHBI serves as a testing lab as well as an educational centre to stimulate the development of advanced horticulture in the region.
Meeting the demand for fresh organic produce
PhD Hoang Anh Tuan, Deputy Director of AHBI, talks about how the cultivation is doing and what the challenges and opportunities are. “The demand for fresh and affordable strawberries is increasing across Asia. Our aim is to grow strawberries all year round and near the city”, says PhD Hoang. Until recently, growing strawberries in Ho Chi Minh is not possible due to the local climate. With improvements in climate control many parameters could be controlled but the right lighting with easy controls was not available until HortiPower launched in Vietnam.
Upgrading yields and more investments
While Vietnam is already known as a significant agricultural producer, its farmers are increasingly looking to upgrade production capacity and increasing yields. PhD Hoang explains: “New generation growers are looking to maximize the yield per square meter with high-value cultivars, to lower the energy use per fruit and affordable solutions to help them start.” There is also a push from private investors, but they are looking to start with technologies and investments that can scale, rather than a large upfront investment with long payback term.
“To support private investors and help them move towards high-tech agriculture we introduced hydroponic container farms. It allows us to control the climate which enables us to grow a high value crop and to grow all year round”.
“The initial investment is reasonable and has only a 2-year payback. They allowed us to do a trial so we would have our own data about potential production results”.
Growing high quality strawberries and producing them year-round has remained a challenge when growing in the field. Growing strawberries in consistent size and quality will require the right lighting, so that the production process becomes more predictable and the yield increases. Consumers indicate that they are prepared to pay more for overseas strawberries that are larger, sweeter and have a softer, smooth skin compared to the local varieties grown normally in the region. Getting the right lighting is very important when growing fully indoor. “We’ve evaluated many different lighting fixtures from other companies. We had the best results with HortiPower since its lighting system allowed us to completely control lighting distribution, the intensity and spectrum. It can also run lighting algorithms without the need for a local onsite computer.”
“Since last year we have actively visited several growers onsite to understand their needs and challenges. We are working closely with a team of our own researchers and several universities to provide suitable lighting solution for many laboratories in the region”, says Katherine Tran - Sales Director of PTP Vietnam which represents HortiPower.
Starting in the spring
This spring, new LEDs from HortiPower were installed. Each shelf has 4 fixtures for an even distribution of light. And with a fully adjustable µmol intensity and spectrum the strawberries can get exactly what they need at each stage of strawberry cultivation. Supporting plant growth, flowering and fruiting may require different lighting which affects the nutrient production, quality, taste and brix. The new lighting also gives better control of harvest times, which is commercially relevant to get ready just before the popular spring festivals and other dates with peak consumer demand.
“With HortiPower we are able to control the exact amount of light intensity, spectrum and ratio. We are now able to control the growing process in a much better way.”
Katherine Tran during A/B testing at AHBI
The right lighting
AHBI evaluated horticultural lighting and chose HortiPower with a spectrum of plant-centric red, green, blue, white and far red. This spectrum not only produces the desired stem elongation, but it also makes it possible to achieve a higher yield of strawberries with a low percentage of malformed fruit. The team evaluated various models and chose the linear 20W version with full control on intensity and ratio. “We’re excited and look forward to delivering delicious strawberries all year round”, says the Deputy Director with a smile on his face.
For more information:
Katherine Tran - Sales Director