The world’s largest hydroponic farm, Bustanica has become operational in Dubai.
The facility, built with an investment of $40 million, is the first vertical farm for Emirates Crop One, the joint venture between one of the world’s largest catering operations, Emirates Flight Catering (EKFC) and Crop One, an industry leader in technology-driven indoor vertical farming.
The 330,000 sq. ft facility which is located near Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central, is ready to produce 1 million kilograms of high-quality leafy greens annually, using 95 percent less water compared to conventional agriculture. At any point in time, the facility grows in excess of 1 million cultivars (plants), which will supply an output of 3,000 kgs per day.
Driven by powerful technology such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and advanced methods, Bustanica is supported by a highly specialized in-house team that includes agronomy experts, engineers, horticulturists and plant scientists. A steady production cycle ensures that the facility provides super fresh and clean products which are grown without pesticides, herbicides, or chemicals.
Flyers on Emirates and other airlines can look forward to forking these delicious leafy greens, including lettuces, arugula, mixed salad greens, and spinach, onboard their flights from July. These offerings will be soon available for UAE consumers on the ground as well, as these greens eventually reach their shopping carts at the nearest supermarkets. Bustanica is also planning to expand into the production and sale of fruits and vegetables.
“Long-term food security and self-sufficiency are vital to the economic growth of any country, and the UAE is no exception. We’ve specific challenges in our region, given the limitations around arable land and climate. Bustanica ushers in a new era of innovation and investments, which are important steps for sustainable growth and align with our country’s well-defined food and water security strategies.”
The Emirates Group Chairman and CEO further added that, “Emirates Flight Catering constantly invests in the latest technologies to delight customers, optimize operations, and minimize our environmental footprint. Bustanica helps secure our supply chain, and ensures our customers can enjoy locally sourced, nutritious produce. By bringing production closer to consumption, we’re reducing the food journey from farm to fork. Congratulations to the Bustanica team for their remarkable achievements so far and for setting global standards and benchmarks in agronomy.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Craig Ratajczyk, Chief Executive Officer, Crop One observed that, “After significant planning and construction, and navigating the unforeseen challenges of the pandemic, we’re thrilled to celebrate this tremendous milestone alongside our joint venture partner, Emirates Flight Catering. It’s our mission to cultivate a sustainable future to meet global demand for fresh, local food, and this first large format farm is the manifestation of that commitment. This new facility serves as a model for what’s possible around the globe.”
The farm’s closed-loop system is designed to circulate water through the plants to maximize water usage and efficiency. When the water vaporizes, it is recovered and recycled into the system, saving 250 million liters of water every year compared to traditional outdoor farming for the same output.
Bustanica will have zero impact on the world’s threatened soil resources, an incredibly reduced reliance on water and year-round harvests unhampered by weather conditions and pests. Consumers buying Bustanica’s greens from supermarkets can eat it straight from the bag as even washing can damage the leaves and introduce contaminants.