Roma Vora, co-founder, Aranya Farms Image Credit: Supplied

Why did you launch Aranya Farms?

After spending decades in the garment manufacturing industry, we wanted to diversify, and the food business was always interesting to us. With research and a push from the founder, Vanya Vora, we decided to look into the idea of farming with technology.

We launched our venture in 2018 after studying various indoor farming technologies from around the world. Considering the advantage of year-round sunlight in the UAE, we decided to pursue hydroponic systems in tech-driven greenhouses.

While building these greenhouses, we spent months preparing the soil to grow organic produce on the other half of the farm. Growing in limited quantities, we sell our produce to some retail outlets as well as directly to customers. We only harvest the same day of delivery and people can genuinely taste the unique flavours of locally-grown, farm-to-table produce. The feedback and support that we have received so far has been inspirational.

What kind of products do you grow in your farms?

On our seven-acre plot, we grow organic produce on one half, experimenting seasonally. We’ve grown everything from heirloom lettuces to everyday veggies like cabbage and cucumber; unique items like fennel, San Marzano tomatoes, and swiss chard; and herbs like rosemary and lemon balm. On the other half, we have built hydroponic greenhouses, where we primarily grow leafy greens, microgreens, and fruiting plants such as cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, or strawberries. In season, we expect to harvest over 1,700 kgs per day.

In our discussion, you earlier spoke about honest farming and the importance of supporting local. Could you explain in detail?

Honest farming means that we farm with a conscience. We use premium quality seeds and nutrients; we do not use harmful pesticides; and we farm in a sustainable way conserving water and electricity. By supporting local farms, you can buy from the shortest possible distribution chain. Support from restaurants and businesses boosts the local farming sector, encouraging farmers to grow more variety. This subsequently helps build a vibrant food community.

Finally, what does the local farming sector have to do to keep improving?

We have to keep trying new things and innovating. What works in other countries may not work for us given that our unique environment is not known for agriculture. Whether it’s developing our own seeds, building our own parts or conducting experiments with what we can grow, we have to stay creative.

Follow Aranya Farms on Instagram and Facebook @aranyafarms for recent updates; email info@aranyafarms.com; Aranyafarms.com

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