Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City is partnering with Madar Farms on an urban farming pilot project. They will use vertical farming inside recycled shipping containers that are equipped with hydroponic systems that can operate using minimal water – a vital factor in Abu Dhabi’s desert climate. The 1.5 acre plots inside each 12-meter container have the capability to grow crops using less than 40 liters of water per day.
“With the world’s population expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050, efficient and sustainable production and distribution of food is becoming increasingly important,” said Yousef Baselaib, executive director of Masdar City. “This is particularly true for countries with arid climates and harsh environmental conditions like ours.”
Less than 1% of the region is arable and permanent crop land, and more than 40% of the UAE’s food is imported. It is estimated that importing that volume of food will cost more than US$100 billion (Dh367b) by 2030. More than 40% of natural water sources have been lost in the past 20 years through overuse, and currently agriculture and irrigation uses 84% of the available water. This has left conventional farming unsustainable in the UAE – forcing the development of alternative models.
“We have begun investing in technologies and partnerships focused on sustainable agriculture with the aim of commercialising farming techniques,” said Mr Baselaib. “These systems can be applied to urban areas to encourage people in the UAE to eat home grown produce. Tackling the challenge of food security is a priority for Masdar and one that we are addressing in a holistic manner by looking at solutions in energy, food and water,”