Situated on the Arabian desert, the United Arab Emirates is known for its hot climate and shopping outlets. But could it also be known for its farming?
Well maybe so, at least according to a recent story in EcoWatch which reports that the UAE is investing heavily in so-called high-tech “vertical farms” as a means to improve food security. As noted in the article, if successful in its ambitions, this undertaking could make the UAE an unlikely “agricultural pioneer.”
Vertical farms are indoor operations that can grow a rich variety of different crops by stacking them in layers under LED lighting in climate-controlled greenhouses. Typically, they employ mist or drip systems that are tailored to each crop’s specific needs, resulting in high-yield, year-round harvests.
For the UAE, such a high-tech option is crucial when dealing with desert geography.
As further explained in the EcoWatch story:
“In 2018, the UAE set out its vision to become a hub for high-tech local food production.
Companies and investors have flocked to the region, attracted by the 0% corporate tax rate, low labor costs and cheap energy. With their help, UAE aims to reduce its reliance on imports and make its food system more resilient …
“The technology uses minimal land and up to 95% less water than conventional agriculture.
The hydroponics system places the plants’ roots directly into a water-based and nutrient-rich solution instead of soil. This ‘closed loop’ system captures and recirculates all the water, rather than allowing it to drain away — useful for a country like the UAE suffering from extremely high water stress.
“Globally, agriculture accounts for 70% of freshwater withdrawals, and UAE is extracting groundwater faster than it can be replenished, according to the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA).”
To read the full story in EcoWatch, click here.