Tech analysis from Africa and the world

Could Vertical Farming Be The Answer To Hunger In Africa?

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According to the World Food Programme (WFP),  Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the highest prevalence (percentage of population) of hunger. One person in four there is undernourished. This means that new ways are required to increase food production and with technologies that now permit all year round farming, it’s still not enough to feed the over 1 billion people on the continent. The International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) says  today in sub-Sahara Africa, 550 million people are still living in extreme poverty, on less than $1 a day! Of this number, 180 million are the breadwinners for the other 370 million (children, elderly & the sick). There are no jobs, so most of these motivated parents established their own micro enterprises and tiny farms. But due to low capital, they are not earning enough profits to get their families out of poverty.

Skyscraper-Farming

It’s no longer enough to just employ traditional methods of agriculture to adequately feed the hundreds of millions of people who need food. Other methods are therefore necessary and in the article from Gizmodo which you’ll see below, a state in the US is already building the biggest vertical farm in the world whose output is in excess of 907,000 Kilograms worth of vegetables a year. But first what’s vertical farming? Find out below;

A huge vertical farm—where crops are planted, grown, and harvested all with neither sun nor soil—is being built in New Jersey. When it’s finished, it will be the largest one in the world.

You can see one of the (smaller) existing factories from AeroFarm, on which the new one will be modeled, above in this video from Seeker Stories. Nothing they are doing or planning is really new—people have been growing vegetables indoors under LED lights, minus the soil, for a very long time now. Even the factory spin is nothing new. Japan’s Mirai factory has been doing something similar on a slightly smaller scale for years now. What is interesting here, though, is just how big this place is.

AeroFarm is now constructing a 70,000-square-foot farm in an old steel mill. When it’s finished, AeroFarm claims the farm will yield 2 million pounds of lettuce and other greens yearly.

But despite occasional proclamations from fans that vertical farming is the future of food, it’s so far remained pretty niche. For vertical farming to really take off, we’ll need to see several of these kinds of successful, large-scale operations able to turn out what they promise—and we’ll need to see them keep doing it on a regular basis. Until then, we’re nowhere near ready to take the fields out of farming.

  • Candice H. Brown Elliott

    To answer the quesiton asked in the headline. NO. Let’s see… a land of plenty of sunshine and limited energy infrastructure is supposed to use LED lighting to grow its major food crops? No… and HELL NO.

    This method of farming will only be used in dense urban areas to supply upscale resturants with baby salad greens… not a hungry world. This system is VERY expensive and energy intensive.

    • Paul Balo

      Thanks Candice. But see, when you look at the delta region of Nigeria that’s rich in oil and has been largely polluted because of exploration, this could work there if they choose not to continue to continue importing basic greens. As with every new technology though, its expensive at first, but given the right investments and research over the years, the cost of deployment will eventually fall.

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