The airline Emirates has opened a 30,000 square-metre vertical farm facility in Dubai that is the world’s largest. The Bustanica farm, at Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC), is a joint venture between Emirates' flight catering unit and US-based Crop One, and is part of the UAE's National Food Strategy 2051 programme to boost food and water security in the region. The facility will produce about 1000 tonnes of leafy greens annually, or about 300 kg per day.
The advantages of vertical farming
Vertical farming uses 95% less water than traditional agricultural methods, and Bustanica is projected to save 250 million tonnes of water to grow food without using pesticides, herbicides or chemicals. The farm will produce leafy greens including lettuces, arugula, mixed salad greens and spinach for consumption on board Emirates flights.
Seedlings at the Bustanica Vertical Farm Photo: Emirates
"Long-term food security and self-sufficiency are vital to the economic growth of any country, and the UAE is no exception," said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates Group.
As the UAE is particularly vulnerable to food security threats (90% of its food supply is imported into the country), the country's National Food Strategy 2051 agenda has been accelerating investment in the agri-tech sector, with Abu Dhabi rolling out $41 million in grants and $545 million to support expansion.