"Showcasing the versatility of our system, we succeeded in cultivating various tomato- and cucumber varieties. At one point, we had 12 different varieties in one container. However, the number of crops we can now grow using our in-house technology already surpasses 100 varieties," says Andrei Belov, project manager at VFarms, an agtech based in Doha, Qatar.
As many farmers in the country are utilizing groundwater and desalination plants, VFarms is set to show them otherwise as they believe in a more optimized method. As the country aims to exclude water desalination by 2030, founder Andrey Martirosov was determined to create a technology that would allow Qatari farmers to grow more than lettuce, and off they went. Testing the waters with a conceptual container farm, VFarms launched its first farm in the Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) in Doha and started operations in the third quarter of 2022.
The concept farm
The POC farm has two different climates and aims to demonstrate the opportunities for food production in harsh climates, using renewables, and growing high-quality products without an external source of water. The team also integrated a dehumidifying system that is completely powered by solar panels, allowing them to reuse even more water.
Various products that have already been cultivated inside the farm include microgreens, strawberries, various types of leafy greens, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, fodder, various types of root vegetables, green onions, and more.
"We are developing an autonomous solution where no external water or electricity source connection is required, allowing us to grow food of the highest quality. This will be extremely useful in solving humanitarian and military crises in remote places. Knowing that food production can be environmentally friendly, at the same time, autonomous farming will help to feed people living in regions where traditional farming is almost impossible," Andrei adds.
As seen above, tomato and cucumber plants
Set on expansion
In the fourth quarter of 2023, VFarms won the Qatari QRDI Grant 'Commercially viable indoor farming of lettuce in arid conditions' under which VFarms will experiment to further build a farm for mass year-round production of lettuce in Qatar. "We're currently in the process of building more farms throughout the country."
Targeting governments, food and water security programs, agricultural holdings interested in green tech and leading to increased crop efficiency as well as charities and humanitarian organizations helping people around the world.