Food production must increase by 70%, according to UN estimates, as the global population hits 10 billion by 2050. On November 28, 2018, Mariam Hareb Almheiri, United Arab Emirates’ Minister of State for Food Security, presented the National Strategy for Food Security, with the aim, among others, to make the UAE the world’s best in the Global Food Security Index by 2051 and among the top 10 countries by 2021.
It will do so by enabling sustainable food production through the use of modern technologies. As of 2015, it was estimated that the UAE imports 85% of its food and in 2014 alone, spending on food imports reached $100 billion.
UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, placed food and water security among UAE’s priorities for the post- COVID-19 period via investing in food technology and developing international partnerships that help provide practical solutions in the sector. On the ground, the UAE is doing good on its promise.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), vertical farming consumes 75% less raw material than traditional farming and just 60 watts of power daily to grow 150 kg of vegetables in a month.
It uses just 12 liters to produce 1 kg of vegetables against 300-400 liters with traditional farming. Farming techniques use hydroponics and aeroponics to grow vegetables where nutrition is supplied to plants through macro and micronutrients dissolved in water, optimizing the use of water.
Vertical farms also bump up yield and ability to cultivate commercial varieties of crops in a controlled environment which otherwise would be unsuitable to local climatic conditions.
UAE’s Badia Farms has built a large-scale high-tech vertical farm in Dubai Industrial City, with the capacity to produce up to 3,500 kg of high-quality fruits and vegetables per year.
UAE-based VeggiTech’s vertical hydroponic farm at Al Zubair Orchards, Sharjah, uses LED-assisted hydroponics for indoor vertical farms and protected hydroponics to farm sustainably. Its farm facility has grown to over 60 acres of protected hydroponic farms and more than 45,000 sqft of indoor vertical farms, with a team of over 150 agronomists, engineers and farmers.
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