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Dubai’s Food Tech valley and Refarm to build an Innovative GigaFarm

Food Tech Valley in Dubai and Refarm have partnered to create an innovative GigaFarm, to decarbonise food production in the UAE.

Women's Tabloid News Desk
Women's Tabloid News Desk

Dubai’s Food Tech Valley has entered an agreement with the ReFarm group of companies to build 900,000 square feet gigafarm, which will be capable of growing more than three million kilograms of produce annually.

The agreement signed at the Cop28 summit noted the construction of the 83,612 square metre farm which will start in the mid of 2024, with the exception of the project to be fully operational by 2026.

The companies said in a joint statement that the project aims to support the UAE’s move to decarbonise food production by replacing 1% of the country’s fresh produce imports.

The innovative GigaFarm will be capable of recycling more than 50,000 tonnes of food waste and will be able to produce 2 billion plants annually.

Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade stated, “Rethinking our food production systems is a clear priority, and the decision of ReFarm to launch a facility in Dubai’s Food Tech Valley is a significant step forward for the development of a technologically advanced, low-carbon agricultural sector.”

“ReFarm’s mission to make farming autonomous, self-sufficient and sustainable is very much in line with our goal to use innovative techniques to meet our food needs.”

Food Tech Valley represents a government-led initiative in the UAE, strategically crafted to tackle local, regional, and global food security challenges by fostering the advancement of vertical farming and cutting-edge agricultural technologies. The primary goal is to enhance the Emirates’ food security by tripling food production and boosting self-sufficiency.

This dedicated food technology hub is structured around four key clusters:

  1. Agritech and engineering
  2. A center for food innovation
  3. Research and development centers
  4. An advanced smart food logistics hub

The comprehensive approach of Food Tech Valley aims to propel the UAE into a more secure position in terms of food production, contributing to both national and global food security efforts.

Within the gigafarm project, six interrelated technologies will be situated at the Dubai Food Tech Valley forming an integrated circular waste-to-value system. This closed-loop circular waste-to-value system is meticulously designed to create a self sustaining ecosystem, with the primary objective of optimising resource efficiency and ensuring that no waste is directed to landfills.

Food waste accumulated from by-products received from organic compost used in traditional agricultural practices, animal feed for replacing unsustainable fish meal and soy oil, and water for use in the vertical farming towers, will be recycled on site by black soldier fly larvae.

The chief executive of Wasl Asset Management Group, Hesham Al Qassim, in developing the project in partnership with the Ministry of Food and Water Security, stated “This is one of many transformative projects which is set to be part of Food Tech Valley which will have a significant impact on the UAE’s food security, maximising the use of precious resources and decarbonising the food supply chain.”

ReFarm was established in the UAE by SSK Enterprise and Christof Global Impact, as a hub with a focus on projects with circularity and clean technologies.

The chairman at SSK Enterprises, Saeed Al Marri said “Our circular approach contributes to wider ambitions of food security and landscape regeneration, with the vertical farming towers capable of growing more than 250 varieties of plants.”

The technologies employed at the site are anticipated to extract as much as 90 percent of ammonia sulfate from wastewater, intending to utilize it in the formulation of plant fertilizers. Additionally, these technologies will generate organic biodegradable polymers designed to release water and nutrients gradually to support crops in arid regions.

Mr Al Marri said, “No mains or groundwater connection will be required to grow fresh produce since water will be recovered as a by-product from the organic-waste-to-value technology and fed into the vertical farm, which is up to 98 per cent more water efficient than growing in a field.”

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