Dhaka entrepreneurs build indoor vertical farm in megacity

The vertical indoor farm in Dhaka's Mirpur is built by four young entrepreneurs at an abandoned house, known as 'Farm Imagination.' The indoor vertical farm, built with a hydroponic system, produces different varieties of salad and vegetables, including lettuce, buckthorn, basil, celery, capsicum, and cherry tomatoes. There are also green vegetables being produced in layers. Specialized LED lights are being used to control lighting and heat while 95% less water is needed compared to the normal agriculture procedure.

Parveen Akhter is one of the four entrepreneurs of the indoor farm. Having completed her MBA from the Dhaka University, she has worked in various institutions at home and abroad. She is interested in good agricultural practice and was inspired by watching Hridoye Mati O Manush on YouTube and Facebook. She can now fully comprehend what the future agri-business might look like and was brave enough to start her indoor farm. Parveen believes that the demand for fresh and safe food will increase day by day. "With this in mind, I think this is the time to work with the advanced technology," says Parveen. 

There are three small rooms along the corridor. Each room has steel trays installed from the bottom to the top. Green vegetables like Bakchay (Chinese cabbage), basil, lettuce, etc are cultivated there.  Each room has a 100% automated system, with which light, water, and air are all being used accordingly. Parveen said that one of their goals is to introduce the new agriculture system to the new generation. Several young people, including Parveen's daughter Radia Rihanna was working there with deep concentration. "These young people are very much interested in modern technology. They are also very optimistic about this initiative. A small greenhouse has been built where cherry tomatoes and various colors of capsicum are being cultivated. The advantage of the greenhouse is that there is no artificial light needed as natural light and temperature are important elements for the crop production," Parveen said.

Parveen says it is a pilot project. Over the past year and a half, her team has been able to build a successful structure using indigenous materials. She has been able to produce and market fresh vegetables in Dhaka as there is a huge demand for vegetables produced indoors. It is not possible for her to supply it alone. She wants to spread this initiative among the youths so that they can take the lead to change the face of farming in Bangladesh.

Read the complete article at www.thedailystar.net.

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