UAE building a vertical farm next to Expo site

The UAE will build a big vertical farm near the Expo 2020 site to bolster the country's food production, a senior official said on Monday. "It will be functioning very soon and it will produce many of the essential food items that we need such as tomatoes, leafy greens, and so on," Essa Abdul Rahman Al Hashemi, Head of UAE's Food and Water Security Office, said without divulging further details.

Speaking at the Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods Business Forum at Expo 2020 on Monday, Hashemi said "Our self—sufficiency targets are moving steadily and in an ambitious yet realistic manner."  In recent years, the UAE farmers have been growing 70 different varieties of vegetables, fruits and herbs like tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, mangoes, oranges, according to the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. There are more than 35,000 farms in the UAE, and many use modern technologies like hydroponic farming and vertical farming.

He said the elementary net houses that cover crops from excess heat and humidity are very water-efficient. "So, we found out that the net houses are even more efficient than some high-tech greenhouses." Though controlled technologies for farming is a very big theme here in the UAE, the official said the country is looking at being an early investor and entrant into the novel food production.

As a hub for innovation, the country is keen to promote non-conventional production methods like soilless farming, food grown in labs using alternative nutrients, he said. "We are looking into how to attract entrepreneurs, innovators, and arid agricultural technology companies to address the challenges of food security in the UAE."

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