"We’re exploring different indoor farming solutions to grow plants sustainably, such as a container farm and greenhouse. Our highlight is a modular container farm, which will be for the international market that encounters harsh weather conditions or seeks to grow plants that require a special growing environment. There’s a gap for us in this market, as we can provide an affordable product," says Sariya Saengcharoenwanakul from Vana.
Vana is an Agri-tech company based in Bangkok, Thailand, which specializes in software engineering at its core. Together with their expert, they work closely with their local and international growing technology partners to deliver quality and reliable indoor farming solutions. With their container model, Vana is targeting farming businesses, restaurant businesses, and others as they can grow a variety of plants inside the fully closed and controlled environment and also can use it for R&D purposes.
"Our system is modular and easy to install. So, when a grower has tested the benefits of our container farms and wants to expand on that, we can easily scale it up."
Sariya says that they get approached by many customers interested in their indoor vertical farming. Currently, the company is mainly focused on the international market for the container model. "Some countries encounter harsh climate conditions or have limited space. So, the container farm model would be more suitable for those growers than here in Thailand."
"However, most of the customers here are interested in greenhouse models with a vertical growing technology because they are more affordable and suitable for the environment. We believe a truly vertical growing technology is a better way to grow more plants and increase yields with the same space growing horizontally." It leads to the collaboration between Vana and its Swedish partner GrowPipes to serve a more effective way of doing indoor farming.
The Vana 40ft container is hydroponic farming with an NFT system. "The water system pumps the water and nutrients that are automatically adjusted from the ambient doser to the top of the stack and runs down through the pipes, ensuring that all the plants get sufficient nutrients and water," she explains.
Compared to traditional outdoor farming, a closed-looped water system saves water resources by 90%. It can host up to 2,160 pipes and can grow various plants, such as leafy greens, baby greens, herbs, and some edible flowers – to name a few.
"With one container, a grower can get a yield of 324 kg of lettuce on the first round. Growers can do one cycle a month, which means that they’d be producing around 4,000 kg of lettuce a year."
The company also has a showcase farm in the center of Bangkok, where they grow several kinds of plants, such as oak, cos, rocket, kale, and microgreens, as well as test growing recipes. "We are testing various crops, not only the ones proposed by our team, but also by customers.
For instance, there is a high interest in premium salads and baby greens in Thailand, as consumers don’t really have access to them. So, we are exploring all the options there." Sariya says that Vana has the potential to grow different kinds of salad vegetables and leafy greens to supply to B2B markets such as restaurants and hotels.
On top of all of that, Vana is also working on a restaurant concept store. "Right next to our showcase farm in the center of Bangkok, we have a restaurant called 37 (Thirty-Seven). At the restaurant, customers can enjoy our customized salads bar as well as they will be able to see the growing technologies. This one is planned to open in Q3 this year, and we are very excited about this opportunity."