"We've noticed a large demand from the market for strawberries, especially during the summer season. Unfortunately, the prices of imported strawberries have been incredibly volatile in the past five years, meaning that customers never know what they will pay for it on a weekly or even daily basis. This hybrid farm will allow the customer to harvest about 500kg of strawberries on a daily basis to bridge that ever-so-growing gap," says Mohammed Siddig, Farm manager and agronomist at Aerovertica, a CEA supplier based in Dubai, UAE.
Covering just shy of 3500m2, the farm is now using 30% of the total area, which is translated into 400 towers, allowing them to produce 500kg of strawberries a day. In 2024, the grower is planning on gearing that up to 1.5 tons per day when the system is fully deployed. Thus far, the team has been working on the farm for the past 18 months, non-stop.
'The secret ingredient'
"We use Revo-ponics for strawberry cultivation, which is a rotating growing tower, using supplementary lighting if needed. The idea behind the rotation is that we don't have to illuminate the plants too often, instead, we rotate, if you will, the plants to the light. Which we believe is the most effective way to cultivate berries," Mohammed elaborates.
Experimenting with new products, Aerovertica has two pilot farms in Dubai, one small-sized- and one large-sized hybrid strawberry farm. The Agtech's towers are available at a height of 3,2 meters, and on top of each other, they'll be about 7,8 meters, fully integrated into the system. The R&D team is currently working on a rotating system that can eventually house leafy greens and herbs.
Mohammed explains that for every kind of crop, Aerovertica can supply a homogeneous micro-climate and ventilation to all the plants, which eventually would help growers save on CapEx and OpEx. That's due to the often hybrid setup and avoiding excessive lighting.
"We're so content to manage this project and be a part of it, as solely, we want to offer viable projects." Back in December 2022, we visited Aerovertica's Dubai strawberry farm, where colleague Harshit told VFD that 200gr boxes of strawberries are priced about 5-8 AED each, which is about $1,50-2,25 which seems rather reasonable if they will be available at that price, year-round.
As for next year, Mohamed gives away that they are planning another large farm of 5,000 towers that can house over 400,000 plants.
For more information:
Mohammed Siddig, Farm manager and agronomist
LIU 4, Dubai Silicon Oasis
Dubai, United Arab Emirates