UAE - The world's largest hydroponic farm (a method of farming that does not use soil) has opened its doors in Dubai.
Bustanica is a 330,000 sqft facility that is geared to produce more than 1,000,000 kilograms of high-quality leafy greens annually, while requiring 95 per cent less water than conventional agriculture.
The farm is part of Emirates Crop One, a joint venture between Emirates Flight Catering (EKFC), a catering operation that serves more than 100 airlines, and Crop One, an which specialises in indoor vertical farming.
Bustanica uses machine learning, artificial intelligence, and a highly specialised in-house team that includes agronomy experts, engineers, horticulturists and plant scientists to operate. The farm will follow a continuous production cycle that ensures the produce is super fresh and clean, and grown without pesticides, herbicides, or chemicals.
HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group said, "Long-term food security and self-sufficiency are vital to the economic growth of any country, and the UAE is no exception. We have specific challenges in our region, given the limitations around arable land and climate. Bustanica ushers in a new era of innovation and investments, which are important steps for sustainable growth and align with our country’s well-defined food and water security strategies."
Passengers on Emirates and other airlines can look forward to forking these delicious leafy greens, including lettuces, arugula, mixed salad greens, and spinach, onboard their flights from July. The greens will also soon be available in supermarkets across the UAE. Bustanica also plans to expand into the production and sale of fruits and vegetables.
"Emirates Flight Catering constantly invests in the latest technologies to delight customers, optimise operations, and minimise our environmental footprint," added Sheikh Ahmed. "Bustanica helps secure our supply chain, and ensures our customers can enjoy locally sourced, nutritious produce. By bringing production closer to consumption, we’re reducing the food journey from farm to fork. Congratulations to the Bustanica team for their remarkable achievements so far and for setting global standards and benchmarks in agronomy."
The farm’s closed-loop system is designed to circulate water through the plants to maximise water usage and efficiency. When the water vaporises, it is recovered and recycled into the system, saving 250 million litres of water every year compared to traditional outdoor farming for the same output.
Craig Ratajczyk, Chief Executive Officer, Crop One said, "After significant planning and construction, and navigating the unforeseen challenges of the pandemic, we’re thrilled to celebrate this tremendous milestone alongside our joint venture partner, Emirates Flight Catering. It’s our mission to cultivate a sustainable future to meet global demand for fresh, local food, and this first large format farm is the manifestation of that commitment. This new facility serves as a model for what’s possible around the globe."
Bustanica will have zero impact on the world’s threatened soil resources, an incredibly reduced reliance on water and year-round harvests unhampered by weather conditions and pests. Consumers buying Bustanica’s greens from supermarkets can eat it straight from the bag – even washing can damage the leaves and introduce contaminants.
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