Dubai’s Food Tech Valley is set to be the future home of a giga vertical farm that can replace 1% of the UAE’s food imports.

The food technology hub has signed an agreement at COP28 with ReFarmTM to start building its 900,000 square-foot “GigaFarm” project that can grow two billion crops annually, according to a statement on Wednesday.

Construction of the vertical farm is due to begin in the middle of next year and it will be fully functional by 2026.

The facility requires no groundwater connection as it will have a self-contained ecosystem designed to reduce water usage and prevent waste going into landfill.

It can recycle more than 50,000 tonnes of food waste, while its annual yield is anticipated to be more than three million kilos of fresh produce.

Farming towers

The site’s vertical farming towers can grow more than 250 varieties of plants, seedlings and saplings, from salads, herbs and leafy greens, through to fruiting crops and tree seedlings, according to Saeed Al Marri, Chairman at SSK Enterprise.

“Additionally, no mains or groundwater connection will be required to grow fresh produce since water will be recovered as a by-product from the organic-waste-to-value technology and fed into the vertical farm which is up to 98% more water efficient than growing in a field.”

Established in the UAE by SSK Enterprise and Christol Global Impact (CGI), ReFarm TM is working with Scotland-based Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS) to develop the vertical farm.

“Rethinking our food production systems is a clear priority, and the decision of ReFarm to launch a facility in Dubai’s Food Tech Valley is a significant step forward for the development of a technologically advanced, low-carbon agricultural sector,” said Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade.

In 2021, Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid unveiled Food Tech Valley, which was envisioned to triple food production in the UAE.

(Writing by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)