The UAE is known for its innovative prowess, combating every challenge it faces with ingenious solutions. Its recently opened Vertical Farm is no exception. As a region known for its extremely hot climate and dry land, it heavily relies on food imports. Almost 90% of the food consumed in the region is imported. Building its very first vertical farm, dubbed ‘Bustanica’, was a great way to localize its agriculture.
Within such a facility, plants are grown indoors in a controlled environment meaning everything from temperature to humidity is monitored. The plants are vertically stacked above each other to save space and they rely on mineral heavy water instead of soil to grow.
It All Began With a Partnership
Emirates Flight Catering which supplies food to more than 100 airlines and Crop One Holdings, a US virtual farming company came together to form the joint venture Emirates Crop One. With Bustanica being their first project, Crop One Holdings’ CEO Craig Ratajcyk’s believes this will be a great addition towards ongoing efforts for local food production worldwide.
“It’s our mission to cultivate a sustainable future to meet global demand for fresh, local food, and this first large-format farm is the manifestation of that commitment. This new facility serves as a model for what’s possible around the globe,”Craig Ratajczyk Via Wired
It’s the biggest vertical farm in the world
Housed near Al Maktoum International Airport, spanning 330,000 square feet, Bustanica surpasses New Jersey’s Newark 69,000 sq ft vertical farm as well as Japan’s Mirai and General Electric farm of 25,000 sq ft. making it the largest facility to promote soilless farming practices. With this hefty world record, it aspires to revolutionize the agricultural field through the production of more than one million kilos of fresh produce every year.
Water gets recycled and re-used
The facility relies on a closed-loop irrigation system when it comes to providing water to the plants. Each plant would be provided with mineral rich water, but once that water evaporates, the vapor is then collected and re-used once again to water all the vegetation. This system is extremely efficient as it uses 95% less water in comparison to traditional forms of farming.
Flight passengers will get to scrunch on its leafy produce
Despite its recent opening, people will get to enjoy the farm’s produce sooner than expected. Starting this month, passengers on Emirates flights as well as other airlines will get the pleasure of eating Bustania’s fresh greens. This will include everything from lettuce and arugula to spinach.
You can eat them, wash free, at the supermarket
As it is a hydroponic farm, meaning no soil is used to grow the plants within the facility, every plant will be considered pesticide, herbicide, and chemicals free. It’s been said that very soon, supermarkets will be supplied with Bustanica’s produce and as the plants are very clean and healthy. Customers can actually eat them right on the spot at the fresh produce aisle without having to wash the leafy greens.
It’s one of many of UAE’s green initiatives
Launching its Green Economy Initiative in 2012, which aims to make the UAE a promoter of a sustainable, green economy, the vertical farm is just one of many of the UAE’s attempts to make the world a cleaner, better place. Other than Bustania, another powerful project is the Mohammed Bin Rashid El Maktoum Solar Park, considered the biggest single site solar park in the world with big plans to annually save more than 6.5 million tons of carbon emissions.
With more upcoming projects in the works as the UAE pushes for net zero carbon emissions by 2050, it’s great to see the amount of progress and innovation taking place within the region.
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