MAKKAH: Agriculture is the worlds oldest, most adaptable industry and some of the earliest cultivation techniques are still in widespread use. Authorities are now looking for new concepts and ideas to ensure their citizens eat as they address future challenges.
Saudi Arabia is one example of a country that is exploring vertical farming to ensure sufficient crops to meet growing demand. The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture has provided SR100 million ($27million) to localize vertical-farming technology development.
Vertical farming is an agricultural technique that allows crops to be grown in vertically stacked layers, rather than in traditional rows. This method requires less space and yields higher crop yields per square feet of land.
Vertical farms are usually located indoors in structures like warehouses where the environment conditions that allow plants to grow to their full potential can be controlled.
Saudi Arabia’s National Research and Development Center for Sustainable Agriculture will form global partnerships and introduce vertical farming facilities in order to localize this new agricultural technique.
Vertical farming is a promising way to provide fresh crops for urban residents, and it is also a source of fresh crop production, Abdulrahman Abdullah Al-Soqeer (a faculty member at Qasim University, and a member on the board of directors of Estidamah), told Arab News.
The importance of vertical farming lies in the small space it requires, especially in large cities that are witnessing large waves of migration; two out of every three people are expected to be living in urban areas during the coming decades.
Vertical farming has the advantage of providing a variety of agricultural products, especially leafy vegetables and strawberries, in smaller areas, with less water, and in an environmentally-friendly manner. Some crops can also be grown near consumers, which reduces the need for transporting products via traditional routes that cause pollution in cities.
Vertical farming is a promising way to provide fresh crops for urban dwellers, and it is also a source of fresh crop production. It is also expected to keep up with the increasing population of the Earth (which is expected to reach nine billion by 2050).
Abdulrahman Abdullah Al-Soqeer is a faculty member at Qasim University, and a member on the board of directors for Estidamah.
Vertical farming is a rapidly growing market, especially in developed countries with high populations.
Faleh Al-Juhani, an expert in vertical farming, told Arab News: The goal of vertical farming is to obtain as much food as possible and expand the variety of crops by creating exceptional climatic conditions through which we can raise production rates per square meter, so long as the appropriate conditions are available in terms of lighting, sustainability and growth and design.
Vertical farming is done in a tall building, he explained. A combination of artificial and natural light is used to obtain the necessary levels of photosynthesis, he added, and aerobic or hydroponic methods and organic matter from some plants are used to grow the crops.
Al-Juhani stated that vertical farming is a way to achieve sustainability. It reduces some of the costs of traditional agriculture and saves more than 90% of the water used.
Al-Soqeers observations regarding the expected increase in urban population growth were repeated by Al-Juhani. Al-Juhani noted that 80 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050. He also said that vertical farming will prove to be a valuable tool in meeting this demand.
It allows the production of abundant crops all year long, which is particularly significant, he added, because in Saudi Arabia, in common with other countries, many traditionally grown crops are adversely affected by cold weather, causing supply shortages that can lead to price increases that can be difficult to control.
Al-Juhani stated that vertical farming could also be used in homes, on rooftops, and on balconies, in addition to specialist facilities.
He said that it is a simple and enjoyable way to improve the soil’s efficiency and quality. Many countries around the world have found innovative and pivotal solutions that have been successful.