The largest hydroponic farm in the world, supported by a $40 million investment, has opened its doors in Bustanica. The facility serves as the first vertical farm for Emirates Crop One, a joint venture between Crop One, a leader in technology-driven indoor vertical farming, and Emirates Flight Catering (EKFC), one of the largest catering companies in the world serving more than 100 airlines.
The 330,000 sq ft plant, which is situated in Dubai World Central close to Al Maktoum International Airport, is designed to produce more than 1,000,000 kilos of premium leafy greens annually while using 95% less water than traditional agriculture. The facility grows more than 1 million cultivars (plants) at any given time, with a daily output of 3,000 kg.
Powerful technology, including machine learning, artificial intelligence, and sophisticated procedures, as well as a highly specialised internal staff composed of agronomy specialists, engineers, horticulturists, and plant scientists, are what drive Bustanica. The produce is grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals and is extremely fresh and clean.
From July, travellers on Emirates and other airlines can look forward to enjoying these delectable lush greens aboard their flights, including lettuce, arugula, mixed salad greens, and spinach. In the UAE, customers will soon be able to add these greens to their shopping carts at the closest supermarkets, so Bustanica is revolutionising more than just salads in the sky. Bustanica also intends to increase its production and retail of fresh produce.
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’ve 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.
“Emirates Flight Catering constantly invests in the latest technologies to delight customers, optimise operations, and minimise our environmental footprint. 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.”
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.”
The closed-loop system at the farm is built to move water through the plants as efficiently as as possible. When the water evaporates, it is captured and recycled back into the system, using 250 million less litres of water annually than typical outdoor farming would use to produce the same amount of food.
Bustanica will have no negative effects on the vulnerable soil resources of the world, a drastically decreased need on water, and year-round yields unaffected by weather and pests. Bustanica greens are sold in stores, and customers can eat them directly from the bag because cleaning them can harm the leaves and introduce impurities.
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