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Oman Food Investment Company is setting up the first vertical farming project of the Sultanate in Al Khoud, Muscat

@zainabalnsseri -

Modern technologies have transformed vertical farming into a tangible reality, moving cheap and environmentally-friendly cultivation from rural areas to the heart of cities.

Oman Food Investment Company, affiliated to the Oman Investment Authority, is setting up the first vertical farming project of the Sultanate in Al Khoud, Muscat.

Vertical farming grows crops and vegetables on vertically stacked layers rather than in fields.

It often incorporates controlled-environment agriculture, which aims to optimise plant growth, and soilless farming techniques such as hydroponics, aquaponics, and aeroponics.

Vertical farming can be done in shipping containers or warehouses or even on premises of one’s home.

This modern idea uses indoor farming techniques using controlled environment farming technology, artificial control of temperature, light, humidity and gases makes indoor cultivation possible.

In many ways, vertical farming like greenhouses uses metal reflectors and artificial lighting to increase natural sunlight. The main objective of vertical farming is to increase crop production in limited spaces.

Increasing production from a small cultivation area is not the only advantage of vertical farming. Some of the main benefits of vertical farming are to produce crops all the year around, use less water, escape unexpected weather conditions and increase production of organic crops.

The vertical farming market continues to advance in the United States. Japan has probably seen the greatest success in this field more than any other country. Japan already has 200 large-scale "agricultural factories", and China has about 80. However, we must note that even in Japan, about 60 per cent of vertical agricultural projects are unprofitable. Currently, vertical farming represents a very small portion of the market, but it is growing rapidly and is expected to reach $5.8 billion by 2022, with the largest gains in the Asia Pacific region.

The development of better technologies can always increase efficiency and reduce costs. But the entire vertical farming is highly dependent on different technologies for lighting, maintaining temperature and humidity, and a single day's energy loss can be very costly for a vertical farm. Many believe that techniques used today in vertical farming are not ready for widespread adoption.

Finally, vertical farming techniques are still relatively new. Companies still have to successfully produce crops on a large scale and make them economically viable to meet the growing demand for food.

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