The challenges posed by climate change and a lack of water resources are pushing countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE, to boost their food growth. Building a high-tech agriculture sector that supports food systems and enhances agricultural output has been the focus of sustainable development activities in the region.
In the past few years, food security in the region has increased through indoor vertical farming, which involves growing crops stacked on top of each other in a secure setting.
According to the latest estimates, the global market for indoor vertical farming will increase by more than 25% to around $21 billion by 2030 from an estimated $4.16 billion in 2022.
Recently, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and US sustainable agriculture startup AeroFarms have joined hands to construct indoor vertical farms in the kingdom and the larger Middle East and North Africa region,
According to a statement, the first farm in Saudi Arabia will likely be the biggest in the region and use specialized agricultural equipment to produce up to 1.1 million kg of crops annually.
In comparison to conventional field farming, the project will use up to 95% less water and provide higher yields, according to the statement.
The arrangement will contribute to growing regional reliance on locally-produced, high-quality crops grown sustainably utilizing the newest technology, said Majed AlAssaf, head of consumer products and retail at the PIF’s MENA investments division.
“The PIF is enabling the growth of the food and agriculture sector and localizing technology that can benefit private sector industry participants,” AlAssaf said.
Recently, Saudi Arabia’s National Agricultural Development Company and Abu Dhabi startup Pure Harvest Smart Farms teamed up to enable the delivery of a sizable project for food security in the kingdom. More than 27 hectares of production are expected from the project in the foreseeable future.