MAKKAH: Agriculture is the world’s oldest, most adaptable industry and some of the earliest cultivation techniques are still in widespread use. But as nations address future challenges, authorities are looking to more modern concepts and ideas to ensure their citizens are fed.
Saudi Arabia, for example, is exploring the use of vertical farming as one of the innovative solutions to ensure enough crops are grown to keep pace with increasing demand. The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture has allocated SR100 million ($27 million) to develop and localize vertical-farming technologies.
As the name suggests, vertical farming is an agricultural process in which crops are grown in vertically stacked layers rather than spread out horizontally in tradi-tional rows in fields. This approach requires much less space and results in higher crop yields per square foot of land used.
Vertical farms are mainly situated indoors, in structures such as warehouses, where the environmental conditions needed for plants to grow to their full poten-tial can be carefully controlled.
In Saudi Arabia, the National Research and Development Center for Sustainable Agriculture (Estidamah) plans to form global partnerships with pioneers in this field and introduce vertical farming facilities to localize this modern agricultural technique.
“In addition to being a source of fresh crops for urban residents in particular, vertical farming is believed to be a promising means of providing crops to keep pace with the steady increase in the population of the Earth, which is expected to exceed 9 billion people by 2050,” Abdulrahman Abdullah Al-Soqeer, a faculty member at Qasim University and a member of 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.
“A key advantage of vertical farming is the provision of a variety of agricultural products, particularly leafy vegetables and strawberries, in small areas and with less water and in an environmentally friendly manner. Some crops can be produced in locations close to consumers, reducing the need to transport products through traditional means that increase pollutants in cities.
Source: Arab News