“Initially, we were interested in rearing edible insects in a shipping container but the sound of millions of crickets chirping is hard to miss and would limit where the containers could be sold. Then we realized that vegetables don’t make noise nor would we need to deal with their feces,” says Yootapong Orr, founder of FlexiFarm.
FlexiFarm is a container farming company based in Thailand that is the first to offer commercial0scale growing systems in a shipping container in Thailand. FlexiFarm built its own container farm that quickly garnered interest and requests to build additional farms. Soon, FlexiFarm will have a system installed at the leading salad factory in Thailand.
“We named our company FlexiFarm to reflect the flexibility of our solutions. The container farm concept has the advantage of mobility, making it possible to cut costs from the long, wasteful logistics process. But if the customer wants us to build a farm of any size or that doesn’t require mobility, our trusted FlexiFarm technology partners can accommodate these requirements,” explains Yootapong.
All about integration
While the company initially thought that container farming would be relatively simple, they quickly learned that there is a lot to it. According to Yootapong, container farming is mainly about combining state-of-the-art technologies into a 36-square meter container to produce an acre’s worth of crops. In integrating all of the necessary technologies, FlexiFarm took care to make their system user-friendly, cost-effective and with low labor requirements.
FlexiFarm is currently focusing on leafy greens and will consider fruits, herbs and other plant types in the future. FlexiFarm works with a team of academic advisors from leading agricultural universities in Thailand upon whom they call whenever they need advice on adapting the system for other crops and integrating new processes.
Complementary system to traditional farming
The FlexiFarm team considers its solution to be an extension of traditional agricultural farming rather than a replacement. Thailand produces a wide array of high-quality food crops which are exported around the world, but the country’s agriculture has been hit hard by climate change and extreme weather events. This has reportedly made it difficult to control both the quantity and quality of agricultural products.
“We are here to fill the gap. Currently, one of our customers asked us to set up a system at his whole food factory. Of the total amount of vegetables he uses in the factory, he plans to grow 20-30% in our container farm. What we’ve started today is the beginning of even better opportunities,” says Yootapong.
Moving forward, FlexiFarm wants its container farming system to become a commodity in Thailand and around the world, bringing everyone an opportunity to explore the business of growing food.