Vertical farms attracting greater interest and investments in the GCC

28 November 2018, Dubai, UAE: A growing importance is being given to vertical farming, among other Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) methods across the GCC and is generating interest and increased investments from regional and overseas players. According to Orbis Research, the MEA vertical farming market is expected to reach USD 1.21billion by 2021 at a CAGR of 26.4% from only USD 0.38 billion in 2016.

One of the GCC countries leading this change is the UAE, which has upcoming projects facilitated by the government as well as private players to help increase food security in the region. These include the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment allotting space for 12 vertical farms to be built by Shalimar Biotech Industries, and the world’s largest vertical farm for Emirates Airlines by Crop One Holdings Inc. With around 90 per cent of food being imported in the UAE, territorial problems of water scarcity and small percentages of arable land, vertical farming is becoming increasingly vital to ensure food security within the region.

H.E. Mariam Al Mehiri, Minister of Future Food Security and a leading campaigner of urban farming plans to create a ‘Food Valley’ or a technology hub, dedicated to the development of food and farming automation. The Food Valley, and other government-led initiatives, are being introduced to attract and enable a new generation of farmers to help build future sustainability. Commenting in a recent interview, the Minister said “[The idea] comes from the Silicon Valley in the United States, where you have technologies, or start-ups, sprouting and developing into commercial giants.” explains the Minister. “We want to bring this to the UAE and build a Food Valley that’s all about food technologies.”

The Middle East and Africa: A prime location for CEA to successfully take off.

By capitalizing on vertical space, and controlling the environment for year-round optimal growth, CEA can produce significantly more yields per square foot than traditional agriculture, while using only a fraction of the water.

AgraME 2019 is once again creating a platform for the latest technology to be showcased to the regional agribusiness market, along with promoting knowledge sharing between leaders in the global industry and key local players around urban farming techniques and methods.

Henry Gordon-Smith, Founder and Managing Director of Agritecture and an acknowledged global thought leader in urban agriculture, stated that the Middle East has an unprecedented ability to reshape critical infrastructure that supports modern human life; “The potential is certainly there to transform what has historically been a relatively small traditional farming industry into perhaps the most technologically advanced agriculture industry in the world. This means economic development, increased production of nutritious local produce, and lowered food costs, all with minimal water consumption and increased resilience to climate change and foreign markets” said Gordon-Smith who will be speaking at the AgraME Conference in March.

Commenting on the Middle East market, Bob Hunsche, Sales Manager, Van der Hoeven said; “We are really starting to see the horticulture industry take off in the Middle East. We have just completed the largest greenhouse project in the UAE (11 ha). With the most advanced technology in terms of climate and humidity control, the facility is expected to locally produce 3,000 tonnes of tomatoes year-round with the aim of helping the UAE become more self-sufficient in its food production. AgraME 2018 was a great event and we are really looking forward to connecting with more projects at the 2019 show!”

Samantha Bleasby, Exhibition Director of AgraME said, “With the aim of increasing food security in the Middle East and attaining the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of zero hunger, we are excited to present the industry with new technologies from around the globe and free-to-attend learning and networking opportunities that will increase productivity in the region with sustainable use of water and land resources”

The show is attracting key players in the CEA industry such as Certhon, Agrotonomy, Veggitech, Wuxi, iGrowths Technology Co. Ltd, Ozorganic Urban Farming LLP and Van der Hoeven. 

Taking place from 5 – 7 March 2019 at the Dubai World Trade Centre, AgraME 2019 will bring to Dubai some of the leading innovators and urban farming experts to provide the industry with valuable information and knowledge.