1. Agriculture World

UAE Plans to Adopt Hydroponics to Produce Feed For its Livestock

To combat global chain disruptions caused by the pandemic, land or resource-scarce countries from the Middle East to Asia are seeking to protect themselves against food shocks and the global supply chain from politics and extreme weather.

Sambhav Kumar
In July, Dubai-based airline Emirates, opened the world’s largest hydroponic farm to supply leafy greens for in-flight meals.
In July, Dubai-based airline Emirates, opened the world’s largest hydroponic farm to supply leafy greens for in-flight meals.

Aiming to reduce dependency on imports and safeguard itself from interruptions to global supply chains, the UAE is adopting vertical hydroponics method to produce food for local livestock. Abu Dhabi-based start-up World of Farming is all set to begin on-site operations at local farms later this year.

This modern method will provide fodder for meat and dairy producers. Currently, UAE is dependent 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.

In an interview, Mesmar said that the region doesn’t have a lot of lands that are suitable for growing crops and the reliance on imports is becoming a concern for all local privately held and commercial farms.

It is evident that local livestock producers find no consistent access to food to feed their animals. To combat global chain disruptions caused by the pandemic, land or resource-scarce countries from the Middle East to Asia are seeking to protect themselves against food shocks and the global supply chain from politics and extreme weather. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also disrupted supplies from one of the world’s top grain exporters. Besides the invasion and pandemic, heat waves have been destroying crops in Europe and the US.

Desert nations such as the UAE can adopt techniques such as Hydroponics, drip irrigation, and enclosed cultivation to reduce expensive imports of high-value fresh produce.

In July, Dubai-based airline Emirates opened the world’s largest hydroponic farm to supply leafy greens for in-flight meals. With the help of the Hydroponic technique vertical farms typically grow plants inside the room temperature without the soil and for irrigating crops water-based nutrient solution and artificial light is used.

According to World of Farming, the technology is space friendly, offers fodder production with a lower carbon footprint than the conventional open Land agriculture system, and requires less water

Greg Ohannessian, Co-founder of UAE-based food security consultancy Soma Mater, which has worked on vertical and hydroponics projects, said that the feed can represent more than 60% of running costs for animal protein producers, so an affordable source of feed can support a more resilient food system in the UAE.

World of Farming is strategizing to build, operate and manage growing operations on private and commercial farms across the Middle East and North Africa, with livestock owners paying a monthly fee for the feed produced. To breed regionally relevant idea in UAE Hatch & Boost has committed to pre-seed World of Farming and is targeting to secure more than $2 million in a fund-raising round later this year.  

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