Saudi Arabia will soon receive a new vertical farm.
The Saudi agriculture technology company Mowreq and YesHealth Group, another agrotech firm based in Taiwan, established a joint venture today to develop a network of vertical farms throughout Saudi Arabia. They will start by building a vertical farm in the capital, Riyadh. The venture, named Vertical Farms Company, aims for the farm to be operational by the fourth quarter of 2023, they said in a press release.
What it means: Vertical farming is the process of growing food in vertically stacked layers in an indoor space. It utilizes technology to grow plants in the air or in water as opposed to soil. Some vertical farms use fish to generate nutrients, while others use solutions containing nutrients. Artificial light is also used instead of sunlight.
Vertical farming aims to address the fact that the world population is growing but arable land is not, thus creating food security concerns.
Vertical farming has numerous upsides. It requires significantly less space than traditional farming and also uses fewer chemicals and less water, thus making it potentially beneficial to the environment.
Why it matters: Vertical farming could be particularly helpful in the Middle East due to increasing desertification in the region. Saudi Arabia has not been immune to this, and the Saudi government has started addressing desertification in recent years. In October, the kingdom planted 12 million trees to combat desertification.
Saudi Arabia in particular has the necessary capital to invest in vertical farming due to its vast oil wealth.
The kingdom already has some vertical farms. Naeem Farms has a vertical farm in the Red Sea city of Jeddah. Mowreq also has a vertical farm in the city. iFarm was also scheduled to launch a vertical salad farm in Riyadh last October, though it is unclear if the farm is operational yet.
Saudi Arabia does not have food shortage issues at present, but its war-torn southern neighbor, Yemen, does. The United Nations has been warning for years that many Yemenis live with famine conditions.
Know more: Saudi entities have invested in numerous other green technology projects recently. The Saudi energy company ACWA Power also announced this week a major solar power plant project in the kingdom. The Saudi Public Investment Fund also recently unveiled plans for an electric vehicle company and a renewable-energy-powered airport in Riyadh.