Urban Farming Technologies Help to grow More Affordable Food
The global market for closed urban farms is projected to reach $49.6 billion in value terms by 2026, more than doubling today, as demand for urban farming technology continues to grow. Against this background, the use of some methods and technologies developed through the cultivation of fruits and vegetables indoors can help Ukrainian farmers to obtain higher yields and grow cleaner, more nutritious, and more affordable food.
This opinion was expressed by the Director of Development of the Ukrainian Horticultural Association (UHA) Kateryna Zvereva, in her column on “Interfax-Ukraine”.
“According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), by 2050, more than two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities. Thus, the development of urban farming technologies is becoming more important. According to various world studies, city houses could meet the needs of the population in fruits and vegetables. For example, today in Singapore, which imports more than 90% of its products, urban agriculture, including vertical and roof farms, is rapidly becoming popular,” she said.
The expert also stressed that the main advantage of indoor agriculture is the ability to collect huge amounts of data that provide valuable information about how plants respond to various stimuli, nutrients, and environmental conditions. At the same time, the director for the development of UHA emphasized that the use of modern technologies of city farms is expensive both from the economic and from the ecological point of view. This is largely due to the fact that the industry uses LED lighting that mimics sunlight. The sun still significantly eclipses even the most efficient LEDs and does so for free.
“In addition, artificial lighting should receive electricity from municipal networks, which do not always depend on renewable energy sources. For example, growing lettuce in a traditional greenhouse requires about 250 kilowatt-hours per year per square meter of cultivated area, compared to a whopping 3,500 kWh per year for lettuce grown on a purpose-built vertical farm. In addition, the energy costs of maintaining perfect climate control for urban farms and the overhead of renting or buying real estate in some of the world’s most expensive markets create products that are sold at a premium,” said Kateryna Zvereva.
She also added that currently, the only crops that are close to making a profit from growing on the technology of “urban farm” are lettuce, microgreens, and herbs. However, some fruits and vegetables high in water and calories may soon be added, such as tomatoes and strawberries. These crops do not form the basis of a complete diet, but rather are an additional source of vitamins.