UAE: Warehouse turned into an organic farm
Sustainable urban farming has now become a reality in the UAE.
Instead of picking up expensive organic vegetables that have travelled thousands of miles around the world guzzling aviation fuel and clocking high on the carbon footprint, we now have an alternative.
We can actually have pesticide-free, zero carbon, indigenously grown, reasonably priced organic vegetables round the year.
Meet Mustafa Moiz, a young Indian expatriate and resident entrepreneur from Dubai.
He is the Managing Director of UNS farm, an indoor facility housed in a large warehouse of Al Quoz Industrial area.
Utilising principles of vertical farming with eight vertical levels of farming, his farm utilises 30,000 square feet of space and is the largest urban farm in the city.
“There is a misconception that good quality, organic, pesticide-free vegetables have to be expensive. We are offering through UNS affordably priced vegetables for all,” said Moiz.
UNS farm that began operation in September 2018, harvests anything between 1,000 to 1,500kg of vegetables every day.
Currently supplying to gourmet chefs, hotels and restaurants.
However, its produce will soon be available to individuals on supermarket shelves.
The farm works on principles of hydroponics which rests on growing vegetables soil free in peat moss. Nutrition is supplied to plants through macro and micronutrients dissolved in water, through drip farming optimising the use of water.
The indoor farm is temperature controlled so has the same yield throughout the year, even during the peak of summers.
It is sustainable because it uses minimum water and the green, red and yellow ultraviolet solar colours that are used in the indoor farm come from energy-saving LED lights.
The Moiz family, which also runs a family hardware business, invested $10 million (Dh36.7 million) in this project as they completely believe in organic, sustainable urban farming.
Moiz added: “Urban farming is the future of the world. Using the principles of drip irrigation and aerial farming and economising on congested city spaces, it is not only eco-friendly but is also financially and environmentally sustainable. Most cities can actually become self- sufficient in indigenous food production. This is the key to food security in our near future.”
The UNS farm currently produces tonnes of greens — baby spinach, kale, basil, lettuce and salad leaves. The farm plans to diversify into growing fruit such as strawberry and also cultivate mushrooms. It also is into cultivation of flowers.
The produce, minus pesticides and harmful chemicals, are imbued with great natural flavours. Moiz added: “The vegetables grown here taste incredible.”
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Photo credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News
04/08/2019 – Gulf News