Earlier this year, the UAE announced its robust efforts to build a vertical farm near the Expo 2020 site to boost the country's food production and future-proof its agricultural systems. Taking another step forward, the UAE is now home to one of the largest indoor vertical farms growing saffron in the Mena region. 

"Vertical farming is usually known for leafy greens, berries, etc., but growing saffron is a relatively new concept. It's a special crop, and here, in the UAE, we cherish that," said Christine Zimmermann-Loessl, chairwoman of the Association for Vertical Farming. "To produce Saffron locally, in the UAE, is a big step forward."

Located in the Veggitech facility in Al Zubair, Sharjah, the vertical farm is all set to produce saffron in an agrotech initiative in the UAE. Owned by Saudi-based SNASCO Group, Veggitech was founded in the midst of the pandemic as a pioneer in advanced technology with the key aim of boosting the agriculture sector and democratizing growth in light-assisted hydroponics systems and penetration for a mass movement in urban farming.

"The production cycle of saffron will span across three months, from mid-August to mid-November, after which the saffron bulbs will be shifted to the greenhouse," mentioned Ali Abassi, senior operations, and development manager, Veggitech. In the next nine months, the facility will be used to grow exotic mushrooms, turning it into a smart mushroom indoor farm.

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