Georges Beaudoin, head of international operations, Agricool, picking strawberries in a cooltainer. Image Credit: Supplied

DUBAI: The UAE’s harsh climate is not conducive to farming let alone the cultivation of a fruit like strawberry. But all that is going to change now. By year-end, Dubai residents will be able to enjoy strawberries grown right here in the city.

French start-up Agricool, which is behind the ambitious initiative, said their hydroponic farming method, has already started to bear fruit in Dubai.

Children of families living in Sustainable City enjoying strawberries grown in their community.

Cooltainer

The first batch of 4,500 strawberries, grown inside a recycled shipping container called ‘cooltainer’ at Sustainable City, was distributed to residents recently.

Georges Beaudoin, head of international operations at Agricool, said he is happy with the outcome. “We planted strawberry saplings in early July and harvested them in September.

 "The strawberry plants are planted vertically and watered by a drip system with LED lights mimicking sunshine...the best thing is the strawberries are free from pesticides."

 - Georges Beaudoin | Agricool


Beaudoin, who runs successful cooltainer farms in Paris, said he hopes to produce seven tonnes of strawberries annually. “That’s about 530,000 strawberries,” he added.

Beaudoin said they came up with the ooltainer concept to maximise efficiency and overcome urban space constraints.

“The strawberry plants are planted vertically and watered by a drip system, with LED lights mimicking sunshine.

“The red light is for photosynthesis, which helps in the growth of the plant. The purple light helps in flowering while the white one softens exposure to ensure the fruit does not over ripen,” said Beaudoin.

“The best thing about these strawberries is that they are fresh and free from pesticides,” he added.

French expat Lionel Oury, 46, who lives in Sustainable City and sampled the strawberries said they were fresh and tasted sweet.

“It’s a miracle how this winter fruit was grown in peak Dubai summer. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next batch in December,” he said.