JEDDAH: A new indoor farming technology with no greenhouses, sunlight, pesticides, or soil required is introduced in Jeddah, the first in the Middle East.
The US-based DeLeon Group, Inc., in partnership with Adawat International, Saudi Arabia, said Friday that the first AeroFarms unit has arrived in Jeddah and has been planted. In addition, an AWG International water unit has been incorporated to collect water from humidity in the air, thus enabling the farm to maximize water usage and recollect water vapor that would normally be lost.
The AeroFarms unit enables the growing of food indoors using LED lighting and clothes medium that can be recycled and used to grow over and over again. No greenhouses, sunlight, pesticides, or soil required.
By giving the plants light 24 hours a day, and making sure to give the proper amount of photon at the proper time, crops can be grown in about 1/2 the time of normal agriculture. The aeroponic aspects of the system enable farmers to maximize water consumption by using less than 10 percent of the water that would be used by traditional agriculture. By coupling this state-of-the-art growing technology with new air water technology the farms can provide 100 percent of their water, without an external water source, the company said in a statement.
The Jeddah farming facility will serve as a showplace for the Middle East in what is hoped to be the first of several sustainable farms. Saudi Arabia was chosen as the first site for the new technology due to the strong support and partnership of Sheikh Saleh Boqshan who is spearheading the project, in collaboration with Saleh Bawazir, general manager of Adawat International Corporation.
"Our goal is to grow indoors without the use of a greenhouse or sunlight, and to provide 100 percent of our own water by collecting humidity from the air. This is step one. We then want to use solar and wind power to make our farms fully self-sustaining. The AeroFarms technology represents the best way to accomplish step one of our goals. By the end of 2011, we hope to be growing several varieties of fruits and vegetables at the farm in Jeddah, including, leafy greens, tomatoes, strawberries, and peppers all without soil or sunlight." said Luke Sestito, president of The DeLeon Group, Inc.
"We have met with 3 governments in the GCC and have given them proposals to setup similar systems in their countries. The reception we have received has been overwhelmingly positive and we hope to have similar model farms in Qatar, Kuwait, and UAE by the end of 2011," he added.
"The people of Saudi Arabia, and the GCC in general, understand the need to conserve water and find alternative water resources, perhaps better than any other people or any other region, since their supply is limited and the land they can farm is limited. We were privileged to visit Tadco Farm in Tabuk, and see the wonderful work they are doing in growing food for the people of Saudi Arabia, a huge farm cut out of the desert is a tribute to the hard work and genius of the Saudi people. We hope to have a small part in helping the region explore new growing and water collection methods," Sestito said.
AeroFarms sustainable farming systems provide a typical return on investment (ROI) of 20-33 percent. These high returns are achieved through both high revenue generation and reduced costs. AeroFarms sustainable agriculture systems produce extremely high and predictable yields of high-value crops, all year round. The extreme predictability of high quality and yield results in premium pricing, contracting and private label opportunities.
AeroFarms systems reduce costs through a semi-automated and efficient design requiring less labor and reduced transportation cost by growing locally.
Moreover, AeroFarms systems are uniquely well-suited for urban applications through its indoor, vertically stackable design. This enables them to rehabilitate urban blight, by transforming old or vacant buildings into productive, profitable spaces. Urban farms also create jobs for unskilled labor and help boost the local economy. In addition, growing locally in urban centers results in better food safety and security.
Besides, the produce is fresh, pesticide-free, local, longer-lasting, safer, and clean and dry upon harvest.
– Saudi Gazette/QJM