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Saudi Arabia announces vertical farming venture with US AeroFarms

Vertical farming is on the rise in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
ERIC PIERMONT/AFP via Getty Images

The Saudi Public Investment Fund announced a new vertical farming project Wednesday, a modern urban concept of growing crops in vertically stacked indoor spaces.

The sovereign wealth fund's joint venture with US-based AeroFarms will build vertical farms in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa. It set a production target of 1.1 million kilograms (2.4 pounds) of crops per year for the venture’s first farm in Saudi Arabia, the Public Investment Fund said in a press release. 

AeroFarms did not immediately reply to Al-Monitor’s request for more information on the project. 

What it means: Vertical farming refers to the growing of crops in vertically stacked indoor spaces. The process utilizes technology to grow food in water or the air, rather than in soil. Vertical farms often use artificial light and provide the plants with nutrients via techniques involving special solutions and fish. 

Why it matters: Vertical farming is a potential solution as the world population is growing while the amount of arable land is decreasing. Vertical farms take up less space and also use less water than traditional farms do. 

Vertical farms could be particularly helpful in the Middle East due to increasing desertification. Many countries across the region are suffering from food insecurity. 

The vertical farm sector is growing in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi AgroTech firm Mowreq announced in December plans to build more vertical farms in the kingdom and there are vertical farms in the Red Sea city of Jeddah. 

Saudi Arabia’s National Agricultural Development Company signed a partnership this week with the Emirati vertical farm company Pure Harvest to provide Saudi Arabia with more crops. 

Know more: AeroFarms already has a presence in the Gulf via its research and development farm in Abu Dhabi. The Abu Dhabi Investment Office is a partner on the project. 

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