Could you tell us about VeggiTech and its operations in the UAE?
VeggiTech is an agro-tech organisation focused on disrupting the agriculture industry to create sustainable and eco-friendly farms. We focus on LED-assisted hydroponics for indoor vertical farms and protected hydroponics to farm sustainably even in the UAE’s challenging conditions, where soil, temperature and water are not conducive to traditional farming. Our farming landscape has grown to over 60 acres of protected hydroponic farms and more than 45,000 sq ft of indoor vertical farms, with a team of over 150 qualified agronomists, engineers and farmers.
How could you help traditional farms in the country incorporate hydroponic farming practices?
VeggiTech’s business model is to build and operate digital smart farms for our customers. We drive the transformation of farms with these innovative technologies in a cost-effective manner. The year 2019 saw more than 35 acres of traditional farms converted into protected hydroponics and the introduction of 45,000 sq ft of indoor vertical farms in Sharjah alone.
We were privileged to be associated with a couple of noble initiatives recently, providing care packages to Dubai healthcare workers as well as the needy families in Sharjah under the auspices of Sharjah Charity Association and Shurooq. We produced more than 10,000kg of vegetables to fulfil our part to society during these tough times.
Given our expertise, we ensure the latest innovation in farming technology is delivered with optimal return on investment for our customers.
Could you talk about a couple of key projects that you have handled recently?
Some of our recent successes were the conversion of a traditional farms (640,000 sq ft) into modern protected hydroponic farms and the commissioning of the indoor vertical farm of 25,000 sq ft grow area. Our protected hydroponics technologies provide a harvest of 40-45kg per sq m per annum, while our indoor vertical farms provide a harvest of 85-90kg per sq m per annum using less than 5 per cent of the water used in traditional farming.
What initiatives have you taken to create more awareness on hydroponics and other innovative farming technologies for a sustainable agricultural ecosystem in the UAE?
Education is key for long term sustainable impact. We work closely with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE). Our Chief Agronomy Officer, Bhaskar Rao, leads our Learning Hub platform that hosts the Urban Grower’s programme for students, parents and teachers. We have had more than 50 graduate participants from the programme.