The United Arab Emirates is turning to vertical farming and hydroponics to produce food for local livestock as the desert nation tries to reduce its reliance on imports and protect itself from disruptions in global supply chains. From the report: Abu Dhabi-based startup World of Farming will begin rolling out operations on local farms later this year to provide feed to meat and dairy producers who currently rely on imports for 80% to 90% of their animal feed. Faris said. Mesmar, chief executive officer of Hatch & Boost Ventures, a venture capital firm that launches and scales its own startups. “There is not a lot of arable land in this region, and dependence on imports becomes a problem for all local private and commercial farms,” Mesmar said in an interview. Local livestock producers “find themselves without constant access to food to feed their animals.”
Land- or resource-scarce countries from the Middle East to Asia are increasingly seeking to insulate themselves from food shocks and disruptions to global supply chains caused by pandemics, politics and extreme weather. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has disrupted supplies from one of the world’s biggest grain exporters, while heatwaves have destroyed crops in Europe and the United States. Techniques such as hydroponics, drip irrigation and indoor cultivation allow desert countries like the UAE to cut back on expensive imports of valuable fresh produce. Dubai-based Emirates opened the world’s largest hydroponic farm in July to supply leafy greens for in-flight meals. Hydroponic vertical farms typically grow plants indoors without soil, watering the crops with a water-based nutrient solution and often using artificial lighting.