Desert nation turns to hydroponics to make feed for its livestock

The United Arab Emirates is turning to vertical farming and hydroponics to produce food for local livestock as the desert nation tries to reduce its reliance on imports and shield itself from disruptions to global supply chains.

Abu Dhabi-based startup World of Farming will begin building on-site operations at local farms later this year to provide fodder for meat and dairy producers that currently rely on imports for as much as 80% to 90% of their animal feed, said Faris Mesmar, chief executive officer of Hatch & Boost Ventures, a venture capital firm that launches and scales its own startups.

“This region doesn’t have a lot of arable land, and the dependency on imports is becoming an issue for all local privately held and commercial farms,” said Mesmar in an interview. Local livestock producers “find themselves with no consistent access to food to feed their animals.”

Still, it’s rare to find the system used to supply animal feed. World of Farming says its technology offers fodder production with a significantly lower carbon footprint than traditional open-land agriculture and requires less water and space. The venture uses artificial intelligence and imagery to monitor the health and growth rate of plants and can optimize output depending on the changing needs of the animals they will feed. 

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