Emirates is farming fresh airplane food for its passengers
THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (UAE) is obsessed with a lot of things: the largest and tallest buildings, the airlines with mind-blogging-ly superior services, and high-tech agriculture.
And now, the state can combine at least two of the above.
Emirates Flight Catering (EKFC) is teaming up with US-based agricultural technology company Crop One Holdings to set up a giant indoor farm in Dubai that’s going to break the world record for vertical farming.
Emirates Airline and Group chairman and chief executive Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said the announcement is an important milestone not only for the Emirates Group but also for Dubai and the UAE.
“This investment to build and operate the world’s largest vertical farming facility aligns with the UAE’s drive for more agricultural self-sufficiency, a vision which began with the late His Highness Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the UAE’s founding father,” Gulf News quoted him as saying.
“The introduction of ground-breaking technology at the facility also enhances Dubai’s position as a global innovation hub.”
The green facility will cover an area of 130,000 square feet and will be capable of producing crops equivalent to 900 acres of farmland.
The beauty of it all is the new facility will use less water by 99 percent compared with foreign agriculture and will also grow produce without soil, sunlight, and chemicals.
Emirates and Crop One Holding’s project is in line with UAE’s long-term vision to make the desert nation capable of growing its own food.
The UAE imports about 85 percent of its agricultural products because only a small proportion of its territory is arable. In 2014 alone, the state’s expenditures on food imports for a population of just over nine million reached US$100 billion.
With this farm column, the UAE will possibly be able to harvest up to 2,720 kilograms of fresh, herbicide-free and pesticide-free leafy vegetables per day.
It goes without saying that a bulk of the produce will go to Emirates Flight Catering, which is responsible for preparing more than 200,000 in-flight meals for Emirates.
Additionally, since the farm will be located near Dubai International Airport, where both Emirates and Emirates Flight Catering is operating from, there will be less carbon footprint in the delivery of agricultural products from the farm.
Flyers can literally get their leafy greens within hours of harvest.
Work on the US$40 million green project will kick off in November 2018 and it will take 12 months to build the facility.
Emirates Flight Catering is expected to deliver the first batch of produce to its customers, which includes 105 airlines and 25 airport lounges, by December 2019.